Britain’s Plastic Waste Journey: Where Your Plastic Ends Up

recyclable plastic bottles stacked on top of eachother

Plastic is one of the most useful materials ever invented, so it’s no surprise that the human race uses a lot of it. However, it’s also responsible for causing considerable environmental harm. Here’s what happens to the plastic you throw away, and why recycling is always the better option.

From Your Bin to Landfill

When you throw away any plastic item in your bin, it gets picked up by your local council’s rubbish collection service. From there, it’s a one-way-journey to the nearest landfill site. Unfortunately, once in landfill, plastic does not decompose like organic materials. Instead, it essentially goes into storage… for a few hundred years.

Landfill sites have a terrible effect on the environment. Even organic materials do not fare well in them because they release methane as they decompose, which is a powerful greenhouse gas that damages our planet by contributing to global warming.

Landfill sites also:

  • Contribute to air pollution
  • Pollute groundwater sources
  • Affect the fertility of the soil
  • Have an impact on biodiversity
  • Attract vermin

In short, they are not the best way to deal with waste. But there is another problem with plastics; sometimes they don’t stay in landfill sites at all, and they find their way into our oceans.

Environment Effects of Plastic

plastic waste floating in the ocean

Our oceans are full of particles of microscopic plastic, and this is an issue that has been in reported in the news a lot recently. For example, The Independent reports how eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the oceans each year and that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

This is dangerous because sea animals eat the debris. These are also absorbed by fish that we, in turn, then eat.

This problem mainly comes from waste that is not properly managed. In fact in many parts of the world, landfill sites overflow into waterways. This is how a remote island like Henderson Island has 19 tonnes of rubbish littering its beaches, as reported in the National Geographic.

What Happens when Plastic Is Recycled?

Compare this to when plastic is recycled and it’s a very different story. When you leave your plastic waste to be collected for recycling, it is taken to a waste management centre. Here, it is separated into Type 1 and Type 2 plastics. It is then washed, made into bales, shredded down, washed again and dried before it can be reused again to make new products.

Difficulties with Recycling

Clearly, recycling is far better for the environment because it prevents plastics from causing pollution or filling up landfill sites. It also uses less energy to recycle rather than create new plastic. However, it does still have its difficulties.

The big problem is that plastic is often cheaper to make new rather than recycle, so there is less incentive for to recycle it. There are also difficulties when it comes to sorting it, which is a complex process. As a result, businesses and individuals still recycle a lot less plastic than they should.

Always Recycle Your Plastic

Every business can do their bit by recycling their plastic. You should always try to recycle it rather than throwing it away, and don’t forget to recycle other waste products too, such as paper, cardboard, metal, and glass. If we all do our bit, we can prevent waste from ending up in landfill sites and causing harm to the environment.

To segregate your business’s waste more efficiently and reduce your waste disposal costs, invest in a waste baler or compactor to suit the needs of your premises.

To find out more about how phs Wastekit can help your business to reduce its impact on the environment, contact us today.

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