Plastic pollutes at every step of its life, from extraction and production, to consumption and disposal. The best way to help solve the global plastic problem, is to refuse to use it.
Australia produces almost 3 million tonnes of plastic per year, of which less than 9% is recycled. Globally, up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic winds up in the ocean each year and studies predict that oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 unless we take radical action. Plastics never fully degrade, but break down into micro-plastic which contaminates soil and the marine environment.
Navigating Plastic Waste
Technically, all plastic can be recycled, but not without major effort and sometimes, not through a regular recycling service.
General Points on Plastic:
- Hard plastic household items can be recycled in the yellow bin.
- Soft plastics can only be recycled through specialist services.
- Polystyrene can only be recycled through a specialist service.
Plastic Number Codes
People are often confused by the little numbered triangle of arrows on plastic products. This little triangle does not indicate that an item is recyclable! Actually, the triangle identifies the type of plastic or resin used.
Understanding more about the type of plastic or resin is useful in working out whether an item is recyclable. Check out Earth Easy's useful plastic number code guide: Plastic by the Numbers.
Unfortunately REDcycle, the soft plastics recycling program which ran through participating stores, has become inoperable until further notice. REDcycle are working to recommence the program as soon as possible. Look to the REDcycle website for updates.
The Ecoversity team are currently working to try and find a suitable means of recycling the soft plastics we have on campus, but until we find a suitable alternative recycling program, the soft plastics bins should be considered inactive.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Sure, you've probably heard them a million times, but these three R's are always important to come back to. The best way to deal with plastic waste is to try and reduce plastic use in the first place. People need to lead on all levels, from the individual legends bringing their Keep Cups, to the businesses who implement widespread sustainable practises.