Part 2 of my Great Plastics Project is to analyse the contents of my month’s accumulation of plastic and work out where it can go. If I can’t recycle it, I want to work out how to avoid bringing it home.

30dayswild

Pile of Plastics – what’s in it?

The first thing I noticed, when I was doing this, was I had to look on coverings/boxes/labels, to find out what the recycling potential was, not on the plastic itself.

First surprise: the plastic bags for many packets of cereal are marked ‘recycle instore at larger branches’. That’s not just for the supermarket’s own brands – Mr Kelloggs and Mr Nestle say it on their packages too. Not really surprising, since between them they make nearly all the own brand items! But… I was surprised. And I get through around three packets of cereal a month. Unfortunately Jordan’s just says ‘they’re working on it’ – but they probably are.

Second surprise: a couple of bags are alleged to be compostable or biodegradable. As discussed last week, these are not the same thing. But there was more than I expected. I will start composting the compostable one and see what happens. The Clothing Collection bag appears to be a biodegradable one, but its film looks to be non-recyclable.

Third surprise: a couple of companies, Cathedral City (cheese) and McVitie’s (biscuits) mentioned the Terracycle system. One for me to find out more about. That’s the GB link, but you’ll find something near you if you search more.

Plastics in groups
Not much of a surprise:
  • My largest group at 228 gms, was, no surprises, the non-recyclable plastic. If I describe this as tearable film, or crackly film, you’ll probably know what I mean. It includes composites like coffee bags (but see Terracycle for crisp and coffee pods)
  • I have lots of clear recyclable plastic trays. Some of these seem the same as ones that are not recyclable according to the labels, and I wonder whether Waitrose (in particular) is being lazy on this. These trays would have gone in my kerbside recycling in Norfolk, but not accepted here (neither are yoghurt pots). At 122 gms, this was my second largest group.
  • I have a small residual group from companies who haven’t said, and who ought to: Kallo, Burgess Excel, Cadbury. Florette says it is recyclable where facilities available. (very helpful!)
  • The total of the ‘recyclable at larger stores’ group was 78 grams: all popped neatly inside the Bathroom Tissue bag, which makes a good container for it through the month. I’m adding another stretchy celery bag from Spain that says it’s recyclable and I believe it would be – in Spain. It’s the same type of plastic as the rest.
  • There’s 108 grams in the ‘possibly recyclable through Terracycle if I chase up the companies’ group

The total I’ve weighed makes 536 gms, leaving me 10 gms for the compostable bag!

In summary:

Non-recyclable42%
Trays22%
Possibly use Terracycle or lobby20%
Recycle at larger supermarkets14%
Compostable2%
Total100
Proportions of May’s plastic waste 2021

Where next with the plastics reduction?

I seem to have already given myself an action plan:

  1. Work out what Terracycle is and how I can reduce my plastic waste by using it
  2. Save the plastic to go back to larger stores, and take it when I go shopping!
  3. Buy more items in compostable plastic – ask for it, and maybe even ask those suppliers for it!
  4. Find out what the other brands I use often are doing (I have made a start on the birdfeed and compost bags)
  5. Lobby Hampshire to include plastic trays and yoghurt pots – find out from Norfolk what they do and tell Hampshire!
  6. Find out how to get veggies that aren’t in non-recyclable bags – if Sainsbury’s lettuce is, and Waitrose isn’t – tell them! My Oddbox is part of the solution, but I don’t get enough salad items in it for the boys for a week.
  7. Buy things that aren’t packed in plastic: Oddbox, Haybox and boxed bamboo toilet tissue (Who Gives A Crap brand is actually softer and stronger than the paper ones) are just the start…
  8. Repeat next May?

Next report?

Well I hope this hasn’t been too boring as part of my #30DaysWild for this year. I’ll give you a progress report in six months. Um… happy plastic-free Christmas perhaps?

My Great Plastics Project Part 2 #30DaysWild

4 thoughts on “My Great Plastics Project Part 2 #30DaysWild

  • 23 June, 2021 at 3:16 pm
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    I’ll be interested to hear what Terracycle has to offer. My concern is that I hear a lot here in the US about the plastics we send to be recycled ending up in the garbage, either because there is simply too much of it or because people are careless and it’s al contaminated.

    At most stores I can bring my own bags again for things like produce, which dodges that one if I remember, and if I’m not lazy and don’t buy the already cleaned and packaged stuff. The farmer’s market is usually a good way to avoid plastic, except during COVID many of the stands have been pre-bagging their stuff. I hope we’re getting past that—I don’t always want the amounts they bag!

    The compostable bags I’ve had (mostly for produce) really do seem to break down and vanish in my compost pile; some have made a good start on it on my kitchen counter!

    Reply
  • 26 June, 2021 at 10:11 am
    Permalink

    Wow. What a way to get the mind thinking about our plastic footprint. Well done on the initiative 👏🏻

    Reply
  • 5 July, 2021 at 8:02 am
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    You have done a great job on this initiative Jemima…recycling is not great here…Packaging is going the right way bamboo and coconut ties are often used to hold bunches of vegetables together…Its the amount of packaging on takeaways which is a problem here…tin cans are not recycled neither are milk cartons and yoghurt pots…I now make my own yoghurt to avoid buying those but they need to step up here with recycling and of course if items aren’t cleaned before recycling it goes to landfill or just land dump here…I wish we had as many options here but it has focused me to buy bulk where I can to get a paper sack(flour) rather than 4 plastic bread bags a week which are not recyclable here…I have enjoyed both your posts Jemima 🙂

    Reply

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