Plastic Waste Disposal – Guide 2024
We use plastic every day, in both our personal and professional lives. For example, a large majority of packaging is made from plastic – and it can be difficult to avoid using it altogether. However, as a Business Owner, you have a personal responsibility to ensure that you reduce the amount of plastic you use, and responsibly dispose of the materials wherever possible.
Who produces plastic waste?
What are some examples of plastic waste?
There are many different types of plastic waste. They can be divided into seven categories, depending upon the type of plastic they are made from.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Frozen food packaging
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Detergent & bleach containers
Motor oil containers
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Internal and external cladding
Thicker plastic items
For a full guide on the different types of plastic click here.
What bins should be used for plastic waste
Various different bins and containers are used to store plastic waste before disposal. This includes:
However, if you are producing large amounts of plastic waste, you could benefit from using a waste baler or compactor. Compactors work by compressing large amounts of waste into smaller cubes, which can then be recycled. You can find out more about them here.
What is commercial plastic disposal?
Commercial plastic disposal refers to the safe storage and collection of any plastic waste produced in or by your business. For example, if your work with Business Waste, we will:
- Conduct a site visit to discuss your best options.
- Provide you with free bins to store your waste.
- Collect your waste according to a pre-agreed schedule. (This could include daily, weekly or monthly collections).
- Ensure that all plastic waste is safely disposed of through environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling.
How much plastic is produced and generated in the UK each year?
Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world – and its popularity only continues to grow. As a result of this increased demand, we produce a vast amount of plastic (and by extension, plastic waste) every year. For example, in the UK alone, we produce around 5 million tonnes of plastic waste in a single year.
391 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year – a statistic that is expected to double within the next decade, despite efforts from numerous environmental agencies.
How can you recycle your commercial plastic?
There are several steps you can take to recycle your commercial plastic waste.
- Wherever possible, reuse products multiple times before disposing of them.
- Put together a waste disposal plan.
- Encourage employees to recycle wherever possible.
- Ensure all plastic waste is put in the appropriate bins. For example, plastic should not be mixed with your general waste.
- Arrange for your waste to be collected by a licensed carrier, who will take the waste to the appropriate recycling facilities.
What are the laws and regulations of plastic waste disposal?
There are various laws and regulations placed on the disposal of plastic waste. This includes:
The Environmental Protection Act (1990)
- . This legislation imposes a duty of care on business owners to safely and securely dispose of all waste, including plastics.
EU Landfill directive. The Landfill directive was introduced to reduce the amount of waste that is mistakenly sent to landfills each year, which could otherwise be recycled.
Producer Responsibility Legislations. This legislation focuses on packaging waste and ensures that businesses who manufacture, import, and sell those materials are responsible for how they are disposed of.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, and you must get to grips with the various government legislation relating to business waste. Failure to comply could mean that you face a hefty fine and even a prison sentence.
How does the process of plastic recycling work?
There are various different methods used to dispose of plastic.
- is the process whereby recycled materials are repurposed to create new items. In this case, plastic recyclables such as bottles, containers, and packaging, will be cleaned to remove all impurities. Following this, they are shredded and melted down into pellets – which can then be made into new products.
This process is sometimes referred to as mechanical recycling, or ‘chop and wash’ recycling.
Certain plastics can also be recycled through a depolymerisation process, to produce oils such as petroleum. This is a form of thermal decomposition, through which heat and pressure cause hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon polymers to decompose and form petroleum. The method is similar to how fossil fuels are naturally produced over time.
The process of using heat compression to recycle plastic is continuing to grow in popularity over time. Heat compression works by mixing plastic waste in large, rotating drums and applying large amounts of heat to the waste. Heat Compression is beneficial as nearly all types of plastics can be recycled in this way.
Certain types of plastics, such as PET, can be disposed of through chemical recycling. This process uses a variety of chemicals to reduce a polymer to its original form. This means that it can be used again to create new plastic materials.
Why does your business need to benefit from plastic waste recycling?
There are many reasons why your business needs to recycle plastic waste – and there are many benefits attached to this. For example, when you take the appropriate steps to safely and securely dispose of all waste (including plastics), you minimise the impact your business has upon the environment. This means that you are complying with all government regulations, whilst simultaneously playing an important role in securing our planet for future generations.
Furthermore, by operating with the environment in mind, you can increase your brand’s reputation – as customers tend to favour brands with strong environmental policies and practices.
How is plastic sorted?
Whether you have a separate waste container for your plastics or store them in dry mixed recycling bins, they will need to be sorted accordingly when they arrive at a recycling facility. In some cases, sorting is performed manually. Otherwise, the materials will be run through a machine that picks up on different polymers and can therefore separate (and sort) them much quicker.
What is the environmental impact of plastic waste?
You mustn’t underestimate the negative impact that plastic waste can have upon the environment if it is not handled correctly and recycled. This is because most plastics can take thousands of years to decompose, and can cause a great deal of harm during this time. Here are some startling facts.
Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year. This causes significant damage to marine life. For example, 100% of baby sea turtles have some form of plastic in their stomachs.
In the UK alone, we throw away 15 million single-use plastic bottles a day, even though they can be easily recycled. When sent to a landfill, the average plastic bottle will take around 450 years to decompose.
Plastic production and incineration produce harmful greenhouse gasses. In 2019 alone, plastic was responsible for the emission of 850 million tonnes of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) into the atmosphere. These figures are set to rise in coming years.
Chlorinated plastics, such as those made from PVC, can release dangerous chemicals during the decomposition process. If this soaks into the surrounding soil, it could lead to water pollution.
When can’t plastic be recycled?
Most plastics can be recycled, but certain products, such as polystyrene and plastic bags, are nearly impossible to recycle. However, this does not mean that the products cannot be repurposed. For example, plastic bags can be used numerous times instead of throwing them straight in the bin. This minimises their environmental impact as they aren’t taking up space in landfills.
How can you manage your plastic disposal and waste collections?
As mentioned previously, the most effective way of managing your plastic waste disposal and collection is by working closely with a waste management company. At Business Waste, we know that you don’t want to spend valuable time sorting through your waste, or dropping it off at different recycling facilities – and that’s where we come in. We will arrange for the safe and secure collection of your waste and take all the necessary steps to ensure that its environmental impact is kept to the minimum.
If you have any further questions or would like to arrange a site visit, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We have a team of experts on hand to answer any questions you might have, just give us a call at 0800 211 83 90
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