Everything you’ve been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn’t recycling

21st September 2018 | Recycling

Head to the kitchen, open your fridge and cupboards, and take out everything that’s made of plastic. Bags of pasta, rice (or quinoa, if that’s your jam), bottle of olive oil or soy sauce, blocks of cheese, cartons of mile and juice, packaging around meat and fish, bags of spinach, two-packs of avocados, punnets of cherry tomatoes, herb and spice jars (at the very least the lids), washing up liquid bottles, sponges (the packets and, often, the sponge itself).

The list goes on – and that’s just one room.

It’s fine though, right? Because you recycle. Or so goes the story we’ve all been brainwashed into accepting: that if we all just get a few containers and separate out our waste, it will be taken by some nice people who will magically make it go away without any negative consequences. Recycling is the grown-up version of squeezing our eyes shut, sticking our fingers in our ears and shouting “lalalalalala!”


Meanwhile our marine life is fast becoming extinct, our air is so polluted that limits and benchmarks are becoming laughable, natural disasters are more devastating than ever and, of course, the planet is hurtling ever closer to “disastrous” levels of global warming. Today, though, some of us have received a wake-up call. The news that the government is considering changing the way plastic is recycled in England has prompted questions about how exactly it is recycled, the answer to which is not very effectively at all.

Of all that plastic you found in your kitchen, two thirds cannot be recycled (if you carefully inspect the packaging, you’ll see much of it states “not currently recyclable” somewhere in microscopic text. Even the thermal paper your shopping receipts are usually printed on contain BPA and cannot be recycled.

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