As the UK turns away from single-use plastic and towards more sustainable resources, we’re looking hard at the plastics we’re currently using. You may not know, however, that one of the biggest culprits of non-recyclable plastic is probably already in your house.
What are problem plastics?
Over 8 million tonnes of plastic pollute our ocean’s every year and most of this escapes from land, is blown into the sea from beaches and ships, or is carried by rivers.
Problem plastics are also known as unnecessary single-use plastics and are in the midst of being eradicated in the UK. Plastic packaging is a problem plastic when it is:
• Easily avoidable or there are reusable options available
• Non-recyclable or hampers with the recycling process
• A pollution danger to our environment
What is black plastic?
Black plastic is one of the most difficult types of plastic to result and often ends up in landfills. This is because recycling plants use special laser technology to sort through different types of plastic but black plastic made it difficult for lasers to see and was generally not sorted.
It’s most commonly used in microwaveable meals, hot drink lids, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and kitchen utensils. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available. Given how much damage these problem plastics are doing to oceans and the environment, millions of UK households are turning their backs on this black plastic.
Why is black plastic still used?
Unfortunately, supermarkets are still using black plastic because it makes the colours of food stand out and appear more appealing. It can also seem like an efficient product because it is made by mixing scrap plastic of different colours. However, this means that UK households are producing 30,000-60,000 tonnes of black plastic waste every year.
As of 2019, many of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are now pledging to stop stocking black plastic in their product range. This is great news for the environment and for your recycling conscience.
But what about the black plastic already in your house and what about recycling it in future if you ever come across it?
How can I dispose of black plastic? Can it be recycled?
At most recycling plants, unfortunately, it cannot be recycled.
Although, some local areas are now bringing in recycling plants with optical detector lasers that have the ability to identify black plastic. This could be great news for the future as it means that these problem plastics could be reused and saved from landfills.
But you should always check with your local council or waste collection service first to make sure. Incorrect items in the recycling bins could mean the entire load is rejected.
How can I help stop the problem of black plastic?
You should start by looking for ready meals that use recyclable packaging. Even though the black plastic boxes may be marketed as recyclable, that doesn’t mean they are. Avoid all black plastic products and choose ready meals with clear or alternatively coloured plastic.
Your money is worth more than you think to your local supermarket and retailer. The more you show your opinion with your spending habits, the quicker these supermarkets will be forced to restock with alternatives to black plastic.
You can also seek out alternatives to ready meals. It can be much more cost-effective and just as easy to cook your own meals in big batches and freeze them in reusable containers. This way, you only need to worry about one big cooking session and then you’ve got food sorted for the rest of the week.
This method can save plenty of money compared to buying regular ready meals. It also gives you more autonomy about your ingredients and nutrition.
Consider companies that deliver regular recipe boxes containing just the amount of ingredients you need for each dish. Some of these companies will even collect your used boxes afterwards and recycle them for you.
What would you like to learn next?