Recycling and Waste disposal has been quiet the hot topic in recent months, between bin weight levies and Ireland now been ranked as Europe's top waste provider. On average a person living in Ireland produces 61kg of plastic waste each year. So many questions as to why this is the case. Why are we the biggest producers? Where does it comes from and where does it go? And most importantly what are we going to do about it? A difference certainly needs to be made starting here..
Why are we the TOP PRODUCER?
For some reason in Ireland, we feel the need to have every morsel of food wrapped in plastic and packaging. How did we cope all those years ago before we became a disposable nation. 30 years ago, the thoughts of buying bottled water and coffee-to-go was ludicrous and now it is quiet the norm. We have been conditioned to think that we need all of this plastic to preserve and package our food when in fact it is the opposite. People find it more convenient to pick up their food as opposed to picking up a desired amount, bagging them yourself and having them weighed. What people forget is that all this packaging accumulates and their recycling bin is half full after a full weeks shopping and without thinking or lack of education a lot of this ends up in the waste bin.
Why are we using plastic?
Plastic is a made up of a variety of chemical substances and compounds. It almost never decomposes or breaks down. It is used on 90% of our produce as a means to protect and equally distribute our produce for pricing. This may not bother people as it is convenient for them to go shopping hassle free but people do not realise that when the plastic comes in contact with heat or sunlight, chemical toxins and gas are released and therefore end up in our food, liquids and produce.
Where does it go?
Nearly all of our recycling is shipped all the way across the world to China. There, it is RE- cycled so it can be used again. Landfills in Ireland are rarely, if ever, used as they are all full now. China has now put a ban on our recycling as it is contaminated and not fit for purpose. A contaminated bin can spoil a whole truck load of recycling which is then deemed inadequate and sent to an incinerator. Contamination means when our clean recycled items comes into contact with food, liquids and most commonly dirty nappies. People are still confused as to what goes in what bin and for this we now pay a price. With the ban of Irish recycling we are going to struggle to find a cheap alternative and costs will rise.
What can we do about this?
When you think about we are surrounded by plastic, it seems daunting the thoughts of living a plastic free life but it all has to start somewhere. Start small and think of the things in your everyday life that can be replaced with reusable products like re usable coffee cups and bottles. Slow down and sit in instead of take-away, buy from shops or food markets that does not have 3 types of packaging on a bunch of apples. It will be highly unlikely that you return from a full shop without plastic and packaging make sure when putting it into the correct bin that it is clean, lids removed, crushed and thrown in loosely. There are so many alternatives to using plastic such a bamboo tooth brushes which are cost just as much as regular tooth brush but are not harmful to the environment. I know your thinking one tooth brush will not make a difference, neither will one bottle or coffee cup but they all add up and they all have to go somewhere. Its good to make a start and today should be that day.
For more info on how to dispose of your waste correctly please see our website.