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(95 Posts)
joolz1954 Sun 18-Feb-18 21:13:18

Bit of a recycling rant now
Have been listening, with concern, to the current situation regarding plastic waste. I’m sure we can all do our bit to reduce non recyclable waste and make more of an effort to use our recycling bins to the full. We are all responsible for the dire situation we are in and what will only get worse now that the Chinese no longer want our waste. Then I thought, hang on. We are responsible???How is that? We?? Me and you??
We find that many of the items we buy come in one, two or three layers of wrappings that we then have to study to find out whether that particular piece of plastic can go in the green bin or black bin. And sometimes part of that item can be recycled and the other half cant. The bottom goes in recycling but the top goes in general rubbish.....And to complicate things, living on the border of the city and a county, bin collections and colours are different. What x council will accept, y council will fine you for.
And so, every one of us, to some degree or another, spends some time agonising over bits of plastic. But several things struck me.
Firstly, why are products so over packaged and secondly why exactly is that our fault? How come Tesco aren’t taking some of the responsibility, or Sainsbury’s, or Morrison’s. Co-op, Aldi, Lidl...
And thirdly, we, as shoppers, have little control over what the manufactures wrap our goods in, from cucumbers in their own plastic cover to grapes in a plastic box with a cellophane bag over it. But the powers that be insist that we waste time and energy to scrutinise each fragment of wrapping and dispose of it responsibly. But why oh why is it our individual responsibility? Can someone please explain to me why ALL packing isn’t recyclable at source? Why are packaging manufacturers allowed to make wrapping that can’t be recycled? And why can’t all councils have a consistent approach to what they recycle.
Blaming and then giving a fine to the end user for mistakenly putting the wrong packaging in the wrong bin is crazy and unfair. Why not fine the packaging manufactures for selling packaging materials that can’t be recycled. And then addressing the serious over packaging of goods that we buy. Those at the sharp end deciding which colour bin to put the scrap of rubbish in are already doing their bit.

cornergran Sun 18-Feb-18 21:33:48

joolz you’ve replicated many a conversation here between Mr C and I as we sort our plastic. I’d love to know the answer.

NotTooOld Sun 18-Feb-18 21:49:06

Hear, hear! This recycling business is really getting out of hand. As Joolz rightly says, we end users are doing our bit, not that we have much choice about it, but it is the producers and manufacturers the government should be tackling.

Peep Sun 18-Feb-18 22:26:16

yes. Yes. YES! I think we are quite lucky in West Oxfordshire with what we can recycle at kerbside. But I totally agree about all the excess packaging, it drives me potty. For a year or so WODC collected flyaway plastics, this last year a change of contractor and expense has meant we can no longer 'recycle' it, so it goes in the rubbish. Crackers.

Cold Sun 18-Feb-18 23:12:27

I am not in the UK so we don't get the luxury of special bins or collections and have to schlepp everything to the recycling centre.

I do notice that some UK products have a lot of additional packaging so perhaps this is something to pressure the big stores about. There was a similar campaign here around 20 years ago and packaging reduced. I bought porridge in the UK and it came in a box with a plastic inner bag -here it comes in a heavy duty paper bag like flour.

I think going back to the drinks bottle deposits of previous times would also help. We have that system here and the rate of returns is high:
90% of glass bottles
82% of plastic bottles
87% tin drinks cans were returned for the deposit return

Synonymous Sun 18-Feb-18 23:45:00

DH recalls how as young boys he and his best friend had a regular round collecting empties and returning them to shops for the deposit. As a financial venture they did quite well at it and were not even aware what recycling meant! grin

Currently we are horrified at the amount of plastic packaging we have to throw away each week as there is no recycling collections in our area. We also experience great difficulty getting at the item we have purchased becàuse of arthritis!

gmelon Sun 18-Feb-18 23:54:26

Has anyone thought of the shops and homes overflowing with plastic toys.
The western world will drown under a sea of plastic toys.
Food packaging is only half the problem.

joolz1954 Mon 19-Feb-18 04:28:28

Thank you for your responses gransnetters. I’m glad I’m not alone.
As I look out of my kitchen window I see four large dustbins on the drive, taking up precious space. Garden waste, general rubbish, recycling and glass. In the house there is the complex programme of bin collection with fortnightly alternating cycles, a monthly glass collection and the bank holiday arrangements that seems to catch everyone out. I wouldn’t mind so much if the process of sorting it all wasn’t so time consuming.
I woke early today and had a glass of fizzy water while I read the papers on line. Being extra thirsty-a cheeky Chinese takeaway last night, do I throw the containers in the general rubbish or recycling, the containers have no instructions?-I took the bottle of water into the lounge with me. Looking on the back of the bottle, I read that the bottle itself is recyclable but the top may not be. I was advised to contact my local council to find out which bin I should put the bottle cap in! I can envisage the call at 9am when I attempt to get through to whoever makes that decision at my local council. I can see being kept on hold, pressing a choice of buttons and then transferred to several people until I find out what to do with the bottle top of my fizzy water (I know what I’d really like to do with that bottle top). This has to be madness. How many of us have the time, the inclination or indeed the perfect eyesight to be doing this. Surely the bottle should be 100% recyclable. Is that too much to ask?
How many of us check packaging each time we throw it away. Or do we fall into the trap of assuming that because it’s a yogurt pot that it automatically goes in the recycling. But it should be. Why should yogurt pots for example, a single use item, be made from anything other than recyclable plastic? That is not the end consumers fault or decision to use that material and the responsibility for disposing correctly should not be left to us to be constantly checking. But it is. It should be the producer of the yogurt to demand that packaging is recyclable for ALL local authorities. All local authorities should be accepting the same items.
Incidentally, watching the BBC programme inside the factory was fascinating. But how many times did we see stacks of tins/bottles/packets wrapped in acres of cling film for easy storage and transport. Is the cling film recyclable? If not, why not.

MesMopTop Mon 19-Feb-18 05:04:05

I buy as much of my fruit and veg loose and unpacked from markets etc. I try not to use plastic bags, just those recycled bags you can get st the shops. Too much stuff is eventually chucked into landfill. Free cycle is an excellent way to dispose of things you no longer need or want., We’ve certainly grown into a disposable society. I’ve lived in some really poor countries and nothing gets wasted. I suppose the rubbish generated is really a reflection of a countries wealth.? I fear for the state of our world for the generations to come. Our poor earth is so polluted and trashed and when it’s really stuffed, where to from there?

Baggs Mon 19-Feb-18 06:07:05

Many end users are doing their bit as joolz says and I agree with the sentiment that the places where food is packed for supermarket sale should be using less unnecessary plastic wrapping. BUT every time the domestic recycling bins in my area are out waiting to be emptied I see plenty that are overfull and which have in full view plastic shopping bags or black plastic bin bags bulging out of the top. I think these still get emptied into the same truck, which makes me suspect that our council must spend a lot on sorting or, perhaps more likely, that the whole lot goes to landfill thus defeating the point of separate collection.

Most supermarkets have loose vegetables and fruit and one doesn't have to put them in a plastic bag to get them priced. It's easy enough to get them weighed and priced, to stick the price ticket on one's shopping list and then plonk the produce in a basket or string bag. I do this and have for ages but I've never seen anyone else doing it. Mind you, I think I am recognised at the supermarket(s) I usually use and the workers there have got used to my weird ways. They also seem to know I'm honest after initial tests when quick scanning was first introduced. I guess in large urban conurbations this might be more tricky. Not impossible though where there's a will.

kittylester Mon 19-Feb-18 06:39:15

It flummoxes the staff in my local Sainsbury's, baggs.

It flummoxes me that people collect a bunch of bananas and put them in a plastic bag.

Baggs Mon 19-Feb-18 06:49:12

Lessons in easy flummoxing, eh, kitty?

Oopsadaisy12 Mon 19-Feb-18 07:28:48

Maybe we should start up another petition to try to get the government to debate this in Parliament ? However, food packaging is the tip of the iceberg , I’m afraid. Plastic zips, buttons, poly cotton? Plasticisers. Paint, microfibre clothing, computers,electrical fittings in homes, covers of books, plugs......all courtesy of Mr.Plastic.the list is endless, plus as someone has already said, plastic toys made by the million and then wrapped in plastic!

loopyloo Mon 19-Feb-18 07:54:18

I think the reason is the pressure to provide enough food at a reasonable price for the population. As long a shelf life as possible and keeping the food clean is a priority. The plastic trays mean less food gets thrown away.
The government is not going to risk making food even more expensive unless it gets a lot of pressure from the public.
I think individuals can make a lot of difference.
Reminds me I must email Ocado again to request that they show which things are packed in recyclable material.

joolz1954 Mon 19-Feb-18 08:05:04

Again, thanks for your interesting replies. I agree that there is too much plastic, for many many reasons. Some packaging issues cannot be solved, many can. And it sounds that many of us do try really hard to avoid some of it-unwrapped fruit and veg etc. But I think maybe I didn’t make my point as clear as I wanted. We would have to work very hard to rid the world of plastic and packaging, but what packaging we do have to have, why is so much either non recyclable or difficult to deal with. I give you cleaning products. An example is cream cleaner. The bottom can go in the recycle bin; the spout needs that phone call to the council. Why not a bottle of cream cleaner where both part can go into the recycle bin.

vampirequeen Mon 19-Feb-18 08:11:29

I try to buy loose fruit and veg when I can but the other day in Sainsburys loose broccoli was more expensive per kilo than wrapped broccoli. How can that be? Surely it costs money to sort and seal the heads in cellophane.

Christinefrance Mon 19-Feb-18 08:21:45

I totally agree joolz our supermarket here in France has been using paper bags for some time.
Maybe we should unwrap all the plastic at the checkout and leave it for the retailer to deal with.

harrigran Mon 19-Feb-18 08:52:26

Christine I have seen people leave the wrappings on the end of the belt, even a cornflake packet as they had left with just the inner contents.
My sister is prone to dump what she considers to be excess wrapping before packing her string carriers. I keep expecting her to leave a trail of small fruit as she leaves the shop.

Oopsadaisy12 Mon 19-Feb-18 09:23:25

Apparently there was a petition for this a couple of years ago, the government decided that it would’encourage Manufacturers to use recyclable materials in food packaging’
that went well then.
Maybe we should have a National Leave Your Packaging at the Supermarket Day.
So, the manufacturers wont do it, quoting food safety and transportation problems, it seems that we will have to come up with a good simple idea that gets their attention.
Anyone with a good suggestion? As the OP said by the time it gets to us it’s too late.

Maggiemaybe Mon 19-Feb-18 10:08:20

I remember our local supermarket in Hamburg having a counter with slots in it for "posting" all your excess packaging before you left the store. That was back in the 70s!

LJP1 Mon 19-Feb-18 10:10:09

You are right. There is no problem with producing totally biodegradable packaging.


We just have to push the supermarkets, etc. into doing so.

SillyNanny321 Mon 19-Feb-18 10:13:26

Where I live the amount of plastic that can be recycled has been limited to what the company the Council has given the job to will take. A few years ago before the change we could recycle much more plastic waste. All of this must now go to landfill so not only the supermarkets etc should take the blame but also the ridiculous company who I do not think I can safely name! My DS & Family live in a town 30 miles away & can happily recycle most plastic items.

Lyndie Mon 19-Feb-18 10:14:37

This makes me cross. I live in a Cotswold village. Lovely old terraced cottages with hardly any front garden . What space they have is taken up by bins! Also the companies who do the recycling. Presumably they make money. I get we have to sort waste to a degree but they should be making the decisions on whether a bottle top is recyclable. Or buy machines that do.

Theoddbird Mon 19-Feb-18 10:17:14

Supermarkets are starting to act on packaging. They were talking about it on BBC Breakfast a few weeks ago. Aldi seems to be taking a lead on this and changing their packaging very quickly.

radicalnan Mon 19-Feb-18 10:24:18

Not to mention Amazon, never seen so much unwarranted packaging. I ordered a long handled dustpan and brush and it came in what appeared to be a double wardrobe...full of plastic bubble stuff................grrrrrrrrrrrrrr