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How is Plastics Free July Going?

How is Plastics Free July going?

The reality for most people is that it’s not easy to get rid of all single use plastics. Plastics turn up in the most unexpected places (tea bags, most big name chewing gum, plasters, crisp bags, disposable face masks to a name a few).

So if it’s a struggle - try for the easy swaps:

  • Bring your own bag with you when you shop

  • Try to remember a water bottle /reusable coffee cup if you are out and about

  • Look out for zero waste stores or shop in the bulk food section of the supermarket if that is available in your area.

  • If you can, buy loose fruit and vegetables.

  • Try to avoid confectionery/ crisp bags/beverages that are packaged in plastic – better for you and the environment!

A question often asked - If you recycle your plastics isn’t that enough? Why do we need to ditch single use plastics?

Since the 1950’s 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been produced but only 9% of this plastic has been recycled. 12% has been incinerated and most (79%) has ended up in landfills, (or as waste in the environment or in the ocean) source: Our world in data. "If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment," Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry's most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., (source NPR, USA.) Here’s the crux of the issue: ‘new plastic is cheap. It's made from oil and gas, and it's almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh’ (source NPR.) Most types of plastic (unlike aluminium and glass) can’t be recycled more than once or twice as the quality of plastic degrades during repeated recycling (the polymers break down). The truth is that recycling mostly just delays plastic going to landfill or incineration.

Other issues with plastic recycling:

Plastic waste is being exported to countries who are not equipped to handle it, resulting in plastic pollution. In 2018, China stopped importing plastic waste from abroad. However much of the world’s plastic waste is still shipped to countries with poor waste management practices. For example about 157,000 large 20-ft shipping containers (429 per day) of U.S. plastic waste were sent in 2018 to countries that are known to be overwhelmed with plastic waste and major sources of plastic pollution to the ocean (source Most plastic is down-cycled into things like polyester fleeces, carpets, plastic furniture. These too eventually end up in a landfill or incinerator. Where you can avoid single use plastics as recycling is really a last resort. Simply substituting paper (especially new paper) products is not the solution. Taking our own or avoiding excessive packaging is a better choice. If you want to find out more check out “The Great Recycling Con” in the New York Times. Another good video clip to watch: We would love to hear how plastic free july is going for you or any other feedback you might have at


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