It is a fact that plastic is a rather insidious material, but it is also a fact that wherever there is plastic there is also a solution.
The solutions are far and wide, and there are many individuals and businesses turning the material in to something workable. Creating new products from recycled plastic is not a new thing. There are a number of businesses worldwide who are doing it – making clothing and reusable coffee cups from recycled ocean plastics – some of which I have featured here in Life & Soul Magazine. Some companies are also making products from plastic waste deemed “not recyclable” by local councils in the UK.
What these solution-driven businesses demonstrate is the infinite possibilities in producing new products from the already existing plethora of plastics available, in a way that is circular. For this to have the most impact worldwide, such a circular approach needs to be adopted globally, as well as locally.
Hats off then to Huntingdonshire District Council who have stepped up their game and created what is being touted as the “UK’s first local circular economy for plastic”.
Huntingdonshire District Council has been working with Charpak, a local plastic packaging manufacturer, to increase the amount of plastics collected and recycled by residents in the region.
Under the scheme, packaging is removed from bins in the street, cleaned and processed and then recycled back into plastic to be reused by manufacturers and bought by consumers.
The circular initiative, which has been in operation for more than 18 months, has helped to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill by more than 55%.
The Huntingdonshire-based project, which has garnered much interest in recent months, is expected to provide a framework that can be easily replicated across the UK, reducing the carbon footprint of recycling as every part of the process is carried out locally.
It is a model that can also be replicated globally. Many have had an awkward relationship with recycling – with some campaigners going as far as claiming it is not the solution to the current environmental issues facing the world. However, a circular approach to plastic, like the one being championed by Huntingdonshire District Council, is a viable solution for plastic on every level – whichever school of thought you may lean towards when it comes to plastic.
There’s enough plastic in the world today, including the oceans, that if it were to be dealt with in a circular way – that would be collected, cleaned, reprocessed and reused – there would be no need to ever manufacture plastic ever again, since the plastic already in existence would suffice for any needs today or in the future.
The solutions are simple – as more and more people plastic gets washed up on shores, more and more people are actively getting involved in beach cleanups, river cleanups and initiatives like social media’s #trashtag challenge. The plastic they pick up should then be put back in to circular operation so then we can truly eliminate plastic from the oceans and the environment.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com