Two-thirds of plastic land-filled or incinerated!

New research published by food retailer The Co-operative Group (Co-op) shows that ‘for every recycling bin that homeowners fill, the equivalent of another two will go to landfill or incineration.’

According to the report Tipping Point, of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste created annually, only half a million tonnes is being re-used and recycled.

Co-op claim the problem stems from ‘consumer’s lack of knowledge of what packaging should/can be recycled to local authorities lacking the facilities to deal with it.’

59% of consumers are unsure about recycling plastic tubs, pots and trays according to research carried out by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme). WRAP work with businesses, communities and individuals to work towards achieving a circular economy by reducing waste, making sustainable products and efficient resource use.

‘We need to stop thinking about this plastic as a waste and start to use it as a resource. What is needed is a co-ordinated response to the problem. This should start with retailers and major brands listening to recyclers and developing packaging that is better for recycling’ says Co-op environment manager, Iain Ferguson.

Solutions to lead the way

Leading the way and urging other retailers to follow suit, Co-op aim to have 80% of all its packaging recyclable by 2020. Packaging such as their plastic trays for used for meat, poultry and fish will now be made from just one plastic.

Being the first UK retailer to make this change, Lee Marshall Chief Executive of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) praised Co-op: ‘Having more consistent packaging makes it easier for local authorities to put in place the systems to collect it and to communicate with their residents. The sort of ambition being shown by the Co-op is great to see and we hope it acts as catalyst for the whole industry.’

Solutions for the Planet underway

Co-op aren’t the only ones with ambition. Meanwhile, here at Solutions for the Planet, our 2016/17 programme is already underway. This year will see thousands more ambitious students across England receive support from mentors coming from Brammer, Buck & Hickman, IGEM, SGN and Tarmac. Working together in schools to implement and catalyse positive change, they haven’t waited for a tipping point. Instead, they’re taking matters into their own hands, getting on with improving their lives, their communities and striving to make the world a better place, one big idea at a time.