04 June 2018 | Anna Cawley
Anna Cawley, director of customer service at Cawleys, discusses how we should be more focussed on recycling rates especially with the mainstream media's incorrect reportage.
There has been so much rubbish written in the media about packaging waste that it could seriously damage recycling rates.
To explain the rationale behind a new plastic-free aisle in supermarkets, The Sun printed a picture of six product packs including crisps, a Mars bar, a jar of fruit, baked beans in a tin, a disposable coffee cup and metal tins with a caption beneath saying: "Here are six items that can't be recycled."
Unfortunately, the picture and captions in the newspaper article were wrong. The photo and caption were later changed online, but arguably the damage was done.
For the record, here's what can and can't be recycled from The Sun's original list.
Metal cans and glass of any colour can be recycled. Cardboard and paper can be recycled if kept segregated, dry and clean. Coffee cups and grounds can be recycled, again if they are kept segregated.
Confectionery wrappers are made from oriented polypropylene (OPP) and, contrary to popular belief, can be recycled, but only in post-industrial environments. So a large manufacturing plant could recycle its OPP but we can't recycle post-consumer wrappers.
Crisp packets are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and technically this material can also be recycled in an industrial setting. But crisp packets from consumers are not recycled.
From a list of products under the caption 'Here are six items that can't be recycled' because they are said to contain plastic, four are widely recycled:
80 per cent of the world's steel ever produced is still in use
72 per cent of all drink cans in the UK are recycled
70 per cent of all paper in the UK is recycled
68 per cent of all glass in the UK is recycled
44 per cent of all plastic in the UK is recycled
Minds should be focused on increasing recycling rates and our eyes opened to the elephant in the corner - litter. A mountain of it ends up in the sea. We are in danger of letting our passion about plastic damage the efficient recycling of the resources we consume.
Anna Cawley is director of customer service at waste management company Cawleys