Is it a #1 or a #2?

If it is neither we don't want it!

by Michael Smith

That is the message being sent out by most councils in Britain as to plastic recycling.

Most councils in Britain only accept plastic bottles for recycling and only those marked with a #1 or a #2. Anything else made of plastic they do not want regardless of type.

The problem is that the majority of people first of all do not know that an chuck everything into the plastic recycling bins and often that contaminates a load that it cannot be used.

Having spoken to a number of people at such recycling places the reply was that they did not know as to the numbers and they were very disgusted that their yogurt pots and other plastic containers could not be put into the bins. Some people even said that they would not bother to do this any longer as they did not have the time to look for the numbers and such like.

We must get down to doing this plastic recycling thing properly and, what is more important, we must get way from plastic packaging, unless it is compostable, as some products nowadays already are such as EcoGen, and some plastic bottles even.

We cannot afford turning people against doing the right things by saying that we only want this number and that number and that all the other plastic things – which can also be recycled – have to still go into landfill.

We cannot afford to do this because we are running out of holes in the ground, for starters. In addition to that we still do not know what problems plastic is going to cause down there in those landfill sites.

We must find a way to recycle all the plastic that is being turned into waste, so to speak, and we also must find a way to reduce the plastic in use.

While I know that it is being said that those that uses those recyclables, the re-processors, only want #1 and #2 plastics because, so we are being told, only those have a market.

I know for a fact that other plastics can be recycled too and products of the “Remarkable” range are the proof of the pudding here so there is no excuse.

The truth, it would appear is, yet again, the industry that has decided that it can make only lots of money from those two types and the rest is not as easy to sell abroad for, let's face it, most of the stuff is sent to China and is not re-processed at home. So it is really that the factories that use the material do not want anything else but #1 and #2, and it has nothing to do with difficulties in the process with the other plastics.

The greatest question we must ask how it can be viable and sustainable to ship the recyclables to the other side of the world, to China, for processing and then bring the fabricated goods back to the UK or the USA or wherever. In my book this just does not compute.

Why do we not even make the effort to re-process the materials at home and the make new stuff from it? Some companies do but they are very few and far do between. This, however, shows that is can be done and also that the products made from it do not have to cost the earth even though the products are made in the same country and not in China.

So, if it can be done making products from recyclables in Britain, for instance, at a reasonable price then why does everything have to be send to China to b e recycled there and then sent back to us as ready-made goods. The “environmental footprint” of doing what we are doing presently is, in my opinion, one of the most stupid thing that I can imagine.

It appears to be thus, however, with everything, I must say. Everything that we want to have is produced outside the UK – mostly – in places where the labor costs are so much lower. But, it does not appear that this makes the products really cheaper for, as it can be shown with those that have done the recycling here and made the good from the same material in this country for about the same cost as importing the stuff from China.

Food for thought...

© M Smith (Veshengro), February 2009