Tag Archives: greenpeace

Is Plastic Recycling Greenwashing?

We all have household bins in our homes and local councils encourage us to recycle to a point where we are shamed for not recycling, especially when it comes to plastic.

As consumers, we are told and expect our plastics to be taken away and recycled into new packaging and this is a big reason many of us recycle where we can. We all want to do our best for the environment and we trust what we are being told.

But I do wonder whether plastic recycling is a form of greenwashing.

According to Greenpeace, “Thousands of tonnes of our household plastic packaging put out for recycling, as well as other kinds of plastic waste ends up in waste incinerators in the UK” and there is a lot that is sent overseas which ends up being someone else’s problem.

Something that has bothered me for a while is the marketing from big corporations, businesses and supermarkets on recycling…the responsibility has been placed solely on the consumer.

And they’ve been very clever with it.

If we, as consumers, don’t recycle, how can the big company actually recycle the single-use plastic? The responsibility has fallen on us but bears no mention of fixing the issue at the source.

Companies such as TerraCycle are trying to do what they can but even they have admitted in the past that it’s not really a solution to our plastic issue.

Over the last few years, more and more zero waste shops have been popping up in town centres and following a refill station trial at a store in Leeds, Asda have decided to roll it out to another four stores.

Source: Asda

I genuinely don’t know why it’s taking so long for supermarkets to catch up. It seems like they’re really reluctant to move with the times. It’s so obvious that giving consumers options like this will dramatically reduce single-use packaging.

I do think householders still should recycle but the key is legislation. The UK government introduced a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags, before the charge was introduced in October 2015, the number of plastic bags used was 7.6 billion bags, in 2019-2020 it was reduced to 564 million.

This is proof that government intervention really does make a difference but the UK government seem really slow to make a meaningful change to push the responsibility back to manufacturers and corporations.

There are certain foods like rice and pasta which are packaged in plastic. I really don’t know why and I can’t seem to find an answer. It shouldn’t be cheaper to buy a plastic bag of fruit or vegetables than buying loose fruit or veg – that’s insane but I still see it. Maybe teaching school children the basics on growing some of their own food would be a good idea, but I guess that’s not how businesses make money.

If you would like to get started with sustainable living, check out my 30-day eco challenge.

The Big Plastic Count

Last week, I took part in The Big Plastic Count.

The founders of this fabulous initiative is Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic asking households to take part investigating how much plastic is used for a period of one week – 16-22 May 2022.

By collating all this data, they can provide the government evidence that more needs to be done with tackling single-use plastic.

At the time of writing this blog, over 188k people had signed up and it wasn’t just households, schools, community groups and businesses we also included to participate.

The layout of the form is clear and it’s easy to identify where the information needs to be logged.

After a week, I was surprised.

I’ve noticed that the number of fruit and veg trays I buy is a lot more than I usually used to. I have recently kept an eye out and started buying more yellow sticker foods (reduced), especially fruit.

When the weather is really nice, I do prefer to eat more fruit but despite attempting to buy fruit loose, there are some fruits that you can’t buy loose; Strawberries, blackberries, green and red grapes.

I have a bit of a crisps problem! I love crisps but the empty packet…not so much! I have attempted to make my own crisps but I can’t seem to get the knack of it. They come out as if they’ve been sitting around for a week. yuk. I haven’t given up, though. I will keep trying to find something that works for me.

Bread bags is another one. I do have bread bags but I’m glad I buy most of my fruit without packaging so this figure was quite low.

All in all, it is a really good exercise to determine how much plastic we are using in our households and thinking about how it can be reduced.

I know it can be hard seeing the results and thinking that you expected it to be better. Remember, you are doing your best, which is a million times better than not doing anything at all.

I’m just about to submit my results, it would be great to see the results from this.

I realised this was similar to the household waste analysis I created quite a while ago, If you’re looking to start reducing your household waste, check out the free download