Did you know that less than 10% of plastic bottles are made with recycled materials? Doesn’t seem like much, does it…
Recently, The Guardian reported that a survey of five of the six biggest soft drinks firms found just 7% of throwaway plastic bottles are made from recycled materials.
To put that figure into context, it equates to more than two million tonnes of throwaway plastic soft drinks bottles every year. What’s more, Greenpeace, which conducted the research, says that if figures from Coca-Cola were included, the numbers would be much higher.
There’s a growing lobby for companies to move away from single-use plastic and embrace reusable packaging and make sure the rest is made from 100% recycled content.
And with that shockingly high percentage of drinks bottles that are made from single-use plastic, I can see why.
With an increase in the volume of recycling, and more advanced technology to do so, should using recycled materials in this kind of mass production be a prerequisite?
What makes this even more pressing is the growing concern around plastic making its way in to the fish and seafood we eat.
Last summer, Plymouth University released a report stating that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish. While a recent study by Ghent University in Belgium calculated that shellfish lovers are eating up to 11,000 plastic fragments in their seafood each year.
According to experts, we only absorb fewer than 1% of these fragments, but they still accumulate in our body over time – and we’re yet to find out exactly what impact this is having on our health.
Cleaning up this plastic mess
So what do we do about this?
Maybe there needs to be clearer information on packaging to show what proportion contains recycled materials, too. Not only would this make the companies’ practices more transparent, it would also enable those of us who want to shop more ethically to do so.
When it comes to improving recycling, while plastic bag charging has squeezed people’s wallets, progress reports show that it’s encouraging behaviour change – so should a similar tactic be tried here?
So, do you think more could be done to clean up our plastics usage? What do you think is the solution here?
This is a guest contribution by Hannah Jolliffe, a freelance writer. All views expressed here are Hannah’s own and not necessarily those shared by Which?.