Did you know, recycling one plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a light bulb for three hours? And did you also know, you could drive a car 11 metres on the oil it takes to make on plastic bag!
Take a look around you. How many of these items do you have on or near your desk?
- Plastic bottle
- Car key fob
- Office phone
- Ethernet cable
- Office access card
- Ring-bound reports
- Phone or laptop charger
- Extension lead
- Filing tray
- Office chair
In our everyday lives, we use more plastic than we think. How many items on the list were in your immediate space? What about the ones we can’t see, like the plastic microfibers in our clothes and in the air we breathe?
In the UK alone, there are around 5 million tonnes of plastic waste produced each year (Plastic Free)
But why should we recycle plastic? What steps can your business take to work towards reducing this? Read our guide and find out more about ways to reduce plastic waste.
Why should we recycle and reduce plastic waste?
40% of plastic being produced is for single use purposes and can take up to 450 years to become microscopic (Ocean Conservancy).
In recent months we’ve started to see the devastating effects of plastic pollution is having on our planet. If the land becomes poisoned from plastic pollution, it can affect the way crops grow, ultimately causing problems with human food supplies, driving supplies down and prices up.
How plastic affects the land
Plastic with chlorinated properties can negatively affect soil and water, by releasing toxic chemicals that make their way into the ecosystem. These chemicals can harm species that drink the water, such as birds and woodland life.
How plastic affects the ocean
It’s believed that there are approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, on the surface and deeper into the sea (Ocean Crusaders).
Most of the ocean’s plastic pollution comes from ocean-based vessels but plastic can also enter the ocean after storms carry rubbish into the open water from littered beaches or nearby landfill sites that are near capacity.
How plastic affects animals
Plastic ghost nets, which are wrongly discarded into the ocean by fishing boats, can cause animals to suffocate or starve if they become entangled and can’t break free.
Some marine animals like sea turtles and whales will mistake plastic rubbish for food, which can then block their digestive systems.
How plastic waste affects humans
While levels of plastic pollution exposure in humans are less harmful than the are for animals and the environment, there are still cases where improper plastic waste recycling can harm the human body.
The production of plastic involves chemical additives, which can be hazardous and affect a person’s hormones or in extreme cases causing developmental issues and cancerous tumours.
Now you’ve had an overview of how plastic waste can affect the environment, read on to discover ways to reduce plastic waste.
Ways to reduce plastic waste
Refer to the Waste Hierarchy
A key way businesses can meet the waste duty of care requirements and satisfy the 1 in 3 consumers that buy from brands based on their environmental impact is through the waste hierarchy. The waste hierarchy aims to divert as much waste as possible from landfill through five steps – prevention, reuse, recycling, recovery and finally disposal.
Could your business adopt the thinking behind the waste hierarchy? If you’re already making changes to recycling processes and refurbishment, your business could be well on the way to cutting out hazardous materials.
Take on a business challenge: Plastic Free July
Could your business go a month without single-use plastic?
Plastic January is a global challenge designed to get people across the world to cut out their single-use plastic waste, such as:
- Bottled water/soft drinks
- Plastic milk containers
- Coffee cups
- Plastic food wrapping
Tip: Remember, whatever positive changes your business makes, don’t forget to shout about it! Your customers will want to hear how you’re helping to reduce waste going to landfill.
How Biffa are helping businesses to reduce plastic waste
For many years, Biffa has worked with Arla Foods to help build their vision of sustainability. Arla Foods’ environmental plans included zero waste to landfill, incorporating 100% recycled plastic by 2020. (Arla Foods)
To help achieve this goal, Biffa collects milk bottles from Arla Foods and recycles them at Biffa Polymers’ facility. Biffa then supplies the recycled plastic to a milk bottle manufacturer which, in turn, supplies to Arla Foods, delivering a closed-loop system.
For more information about this process, see our guide to Closed Loop Recycling.
Could Biffa help your business reduce plastic waste?
There are so many innovative ways companies can start tackling our planet’s plastic problem, from internal team comptetitions, making changes to packaging and office equipment to introducing new policies and procedures.
Biffa offers a plastic buying service where businesses can sell their scrap plastic to us. Scrap plastic includes dispensable stock, packaging, end of life stock and manufacturer’s waste. We also sell recycled plastic, which is a cost-effective, proven way to have a positive effect on the economy and the environment.
If this article has inspired you to start a plastic recycling challenge or partake in any other recycling scheme and would like some advice on how to get started – Biffa are here to help!