Plastics and the Environment
Here at Composite Sales and the PBSL Group, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. Like everybody else, we are concerned with the recent news that plastics are littering both our marine and land environments, and we are working closely with our industry supply partners to minimise the impact that our activities have on our surroundings.
It is our firm belief that if all households and businesses start to take responsibility for their own actions, then a tangible change can be made that will help to preserve our planet for future generations.
Although this term is generally used to describe plastic bags, plastic straws, cold drinks bottles, stirrers for hot drinks, and most food packaging, there is actually no such thing as single-use plastics. In theory, all types of plastic can be recycled; however, in reality recycling is limited by a number of factors, such as people’s behaviour, the local collection infrastructure, and cost considerations. These types of products are generally the most damaging in terms of littering and are justifiably the main priority for the action required to protect our environment. They are very different in both use and nature to plastic building materials.
By their very design, plastic building materials have a long life cycle. Take a look around and you will see pipes, gutters, and roofline materials that were installed as much as 40 years ago. These products were the forerunners of what we use today – the technology to manufacture such plastics has advanced hugely since the emergence of PVC building products in the 1970s. Many of our current stock products include an element of recycled plastics in their ingredients, and most are totally recyclable when their useful life does finally come to an end.
We use recyclable cardboard boxes to transport all of our fittings. Our extrusions are generally packed in bubble wrap – mainly because it’s very light, strong, and does not consume many resources to produce or transport. If it was simply replaced by other materials, resource use would increase on average by between 2-4 times, depending upon how you measure its impact (weight, energy, or greenhouse gas emissions).
It is also relevant to point out that packaging is used to protect our goods. Without it, we would undoubtedly suffer more damage, leading to demand for replacement products and repeat journeys. Studies have found that as a rule, the production of packaging consumes only a fraction of the energy resources used to produce the goods that they protect (around one tenth).
Bubble wrap and film can be recycled, although most local authorities do not currently provide resources for this. For those who can’t recycle plastic film at home, there are some types of plastic films that can be recycled at carrier bag collection points at the larger stores of most major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op, and Waitrose.
WHICH TYPES OF PLASTIC PACKAGING CAN BE RECYCLED?
The following different types of plastic films are accepted at carrier bag collection points:
· Plastic carrier bags
· Plastic bread bags (shake out)
· Plastic cereal bags i.e., Porridge Oats (not inners from boxed cereals)
· Plastic wrappers and ring joiners from cans and plastic bottles
· Plastic wrappers from toilet roll and kitchen towel packs
· Plastic freezer bags
· Plastic magazine and newspaper wrap (the type used for home delivery only)
· Thin bags used for fruit and veg at supermarkets
· Bubble wrap
· Any non-polythene film (e.g., PP, PVC, others)
· Cling film
· Food and drink pouches
· Crisp packets
· Film lids from ready meals and food trays
PLASTIC PELLETS – OPERATION CLEAN SWEEP
Although it is not well publicised, the British Plastics Federation is leading the way with a number of vital initiatives. These include Operation Clean Sweep, which is a scheme focused on plastic manufacturing operations in the UK. The aim is to that ensure that plastic pellets, powders, and flakes, which are vital to the production of plastics, are handled safely throughout their life cycle. By signing up to Operation Clean Sweep, companies make a commitment to adhere to best practice and implement systems to prevent plastic pellet loss – and that they will play their part in protecting the aquatic environment. Many of our suppliers have already signed up, and we are actively discussing this initiative with those who haven’t yet done so.
PLASTICS INDUSTRY RECYCLING ACTION PLAN
The British Plastics Federation is also actively involved in PIRAP, which is the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan. PIRAP was set up in June 2015 to help meet the 57% plastic packaging recycling target by 2017. The end target date has now been extended out to 2020 – whilst we are making good progress as a whole in this area, there is still a challenge for industry in general as further infrastructure development is needed. PIRAP aims to combat these problems by approaching the issue with three key initiatives, namely:
- increase collection
- improve sorting
- develop end markets for recycled plastics
If you have any queries about the environmental impact of our products policy, please feel free to contact us or write us at PBSL Group Ltd, Unit 1B, Altbarn, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8LG, United Kingdom.