It's time for a [climate] change: the recycling* asterisk
A discussion on consumer confusion around the recycling of certain products as well as the dangerous distraction plastic brings.
As Marketing Week put it, many consumers are unknowingly adding to the landfill problem – even though they’re actively trying to help.
How many times have you gone to recycle something, believing you’re doing your bit for the planet? There’s a good chance that the very products which suggest they’re recyclable or biodegradable have an asterisk next to that claim – and you may be surprised to learn that regardless of your best efforts, the products are ending up on landfill.
Taking on 'The Asterisk'
There are many products which contain materials that are only part-recyclable, even though the company from which these products are manufactured by has claimed that these products are recyclable* - and it’s the asterisk at the end of that word that’s catching people out. An example of this is with yoghurt pots. The pots are recyclable but the lids attached to these aren’t – although many will fail to remove the lid from the pot as they look at the recyclable logo and assume it’s all safe for recycling.
Plastic as a dangerous distraction
As Guy Singh-Watson, founder of Riverford Organics, argues, the anti-plastic fervour could be doing more harm than good. Guy’s argument is that plastic in itself isn’t an ‘evil material’. Its excessive use is what’s hurting the planet, and therefore it should be used sparingly. Riverford Organic’s founder also argues that climate change is the biggest worry, and this is made up from a plethora of pollutants – whilst a larger focus should be placed on cutting carbon.
Guy further believes that it would be a step in the wrong direction if the government focuses too much on cutting plastic use whilst failing to address energy efficiency or reducing ones’ carbon footprint in other ways. On the topic of carbon, why not spare 2 minutes and work out your carbon footprint, here.
Of these, there are 5:
1. There’re currently 39 different recycling policies in England, so there’s a massive need for simpler nation-wide government policy (synergies between counties to ensure recycling practise is the same for a recycling plant in Newcastle as it would be for Brighton). Until there are clear, coherent and consistent guidelines for consumers up and down the country, the problem will never go away
2. Education. Consumers need to be shown that the asterisk can be a constraint to correct and proper recycling and until they are taught this (along with other recycling best practises), their waste will continue to end up being burnt or decomposing on landfill sites
3. Simpler recycling capabilities need to be implemented. By reducing confusion around what can/can’t be recycled, the recycling journey is made easier for consumers
4. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture and keep other pollutants in mind. As with everything, moderation is key. Reduce, reuse and recycle where possible. Do business with companies who’re on the frontline against the fight on pollutants and championing sustainability, such as Versapak
5. Whilst Versapak customers can now Recycle their Seals through this scheme you should ultimately be mindful about your carbon footprint and use only what you need, doing what you can, when you can