Binit’s most recent Big Breakfast was held on Friday at The Prospect Inn with some incredibly delicious bakes provided by Boatyard Bakery. This time the theme was everything plastics since it is Plastic Free July. Our very own CEO Phillippa and Matt Hulland, Resource Recovery Manager at Exeter City Council, both delivered talks surrounding the topic of plastics: where to go from here.
First, Philippa raised the question of whether it is the types of plastics that we are using, or what we then do with them, that is the real problem. In reality, it is a bit of both. Since the 1970s, when the use of plastics first skyrocketed, the main attitude towards plastic pollution and waste was that it is someone else’s problem for later. But now it is very much our problem. One solution is that we use plastic alternatives to avoid plastics altogether; however, not only are these alternatives perhaps not as financially accessible as plastic, but also that their manufacturing processes have high carbon footprints. So are they really environmentally better than plastics?
Some plastic problems that were raised by the attendees were the inability to recycle crisp packets (which are actually made out of 7 different types of plastic!), bike tyres, plastic wraps, and excessive packaging of fruit and vegetables. Despite the avoidance of plastic being the most ideal solution to plastic pollution and waste, Matt emphasised that the more we can adopt a circular approach to plastics, the more we can reduce the amount of virgin material and therefore reduce the amount of plastic pollution and waste in the world.
A ‘closed loop’ is when a material is recycled and then used to remake a similar item; for instance, recycled metal can be used to make new tin cans, and recycled card can be used to make new paper. One example of a UK company that has started the closed-loop process of plastics is Jayplas, formerly known as J&A Young. They have several recycling manufacturing sites across the UK, each specialising in a unique polymer type and process, including a PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) washing and compounding service. Here, PET drink bottles, such as plastic milk bottles, are washed and turned into hot washed r-PET flake and used to create new drink bottles, contributing towards a circular economy. Jayplas also have plants where plastic bags made out of LPDE (low-density Polyethylene) and HDPE (high-density Polyethylene) are washed and recycled back into new plastic bags and then repurchased by local authorities such as Exeter City Council to use and then recycle again.
It is important to note that Exeter City Council are lucky in that they have access to their own MRF (material reclamation facility) and so they have the ability to sell and rebuy their own recycled materials, rather than outsourcing it to a private sector. Nonetheless, this is an excellent starting point to reduce plastic waste and pollution and shows that there is definitely hope.
Our chosen charity for this Big Binit Breakfast is Hospiscare, who do an amazing job at supporting adults with life-limiting illnesses in Devon. Only 18% of their funding is provided by the NHS and the remaining 82% is self-funded. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep supporting them in any way you can!
For any donations to Hospiscare or general enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01392 247035.