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Shredded Plastics

Is plastic really as bad as we think?

Posted in Recycling
On 03 Mar 2020
By Fran Morrissy

As sustainability is pushed to the top of the global agenda with help from high profile campaigners such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, the world is developing more of an environmental conscience.

Right at the top of this agenda is plastic pollution and how we stop it damaging our oceans. And no wonder – a study found that by the end of 2015 humans had generated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics and 6.3 billion tons of this had become waste.

Recently, it has been a generally held belief that the best way to reduce plastic pollution is to reduce the amount of plastic we manufacture and use. Some believe that banning plastic in certain scenarios altogether is the answer, whereas some countries including the UK have introduced taxes on items such as plastic bags in an attempt to reduce demand for plastic.

As a result of this rhetoric, there has been something of a ‘demonisation’ of plastics in general, especially ‘single use’ plastics. But at Biffa we are the coal face of handling the country’s plastic waste on a daily basis, collecting it from homes and businesses, and we know that a lot of plastic, when recycled correctly, is not as damaging as some think.

Whilst we must work towards reducing overall plastic consumption as a society, the fact remains that plastic has a vital role as a lightweight, durable, low energy-intensity material, that if recycled properly can have a sustainable role in modern life. For food and drink particularly, plastic packaging can keep food fresher, allowing a prolonged shelf life and reducing food waste.

That is why we have invested £27.5m in a new state-of-the-art PET plastic recycling facility in Seaham, County Durham. The plant can convert 57,000 tonnes of material per year, equivalent to 1.3bn plastic bottles, back into high-purity plastic pellets to be sold on to drinks makers and other manufacturers to be used for a range of applications.

We hope that facilities like ours in Seaham will help ensure that we can sustainably recycle our own plastic waste here in the UK, whilst simultaneously creating jobs in the green economy. Plastic does not have to be as bad as some think.


About the author

image of fran tansley

Fran Morrissy

Fran is Head of Brand & PR here at Biffa. She's particularly passionate about our safety initiatives, so keep a look out for her updates on these campaigns.