Make your Colchester Plastic Pledge today and reduce your plastic footprint

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I’m back! (well for one post only at the moment)

It’s been several months since my last blog post and it’s great to see that recycling rates in the borough have continued to rise, so huge thanks to everyone who has been doing their bit to recycle, however today’s post is less about recycling and more about sustainability and reducing the single-use plastic items that you may use.

Earlier this year, I blogged about how plastic gives the whole planet the blues and the impact plastics have on the environment. This has continued to be a hot topic in the press since then and more recently there has been a further spike following the BBC’s recent programme “Drowning in Plastics”, which ties in with today’s blog post. My reason for jumping back on here today and writing this post is to tell you about an exciting new campaign, Colchester Plastic Pledge, which Colchester Borough Council are launching today.

The purpose of the Colchester Plastic Pledge campaign is to encourage local residents and organisations to be more plastic aware, consider their use of the material and commit to reducing their own use of single-use plastics by making a simple pledge online.

To make your pledge today, simply visit www.colchester.gov.uk/colplasticpledge and either choose a pledge or create your own – it’s that easy! Residents can also choose to enter one of our prize draw competitions to win some goodies, such as reusable bottles and bags which will could help with their pledge. The Council will also be periodically publishing a list of all the organisations who have made a pledge to reduce their plastic footprint through on its website and has developed a resource pack to help them share their pledge with others.

shutterstock_633495929.jpgColchester Borough Council has also made its own pledge and committed to phasing out its use of single-use plastics. For example, it’s in the process of phasing out plastic straws and cups at all its sites, replacing them with paper alternatives; and any new catering/bar contracts which come up for tender now also include a requirement to cut single-use plastic, to name a few.

The Colchester Plastic pledge really is a quick and simple way for all of us to consider the plastics we’re using and consider what action(s) we can take to reduce our single-use plastic usage. I’ll definitely be making my Colchester Plastic Pledge when I get home from work this evening – we’ll be using paper straws when my children insist on having a straw and will make sure we always use metal cutlery at parties and on family picnics. We’ve already changed to buying loose rather than packaged fruit and veg on our weekly food shop but we’ll also continue to look at what other changes we as a household can make to reduce our use of single-use plastics. What pledge will you make?

Once you’ve made your pledge, please do share it with others using the hashtag #colplasticpledge and encourage them to consider what they could do and make a pledge too.

Happy pledging!

Reece

Plastic gives the whole planet the blues

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Did you watch Blue Planet II over the winter? I knew it was on, but I was so caught up with work and Christmas that I never watched it.

It wasn’t until the final episode that I started to see it all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

People who never usually post much about the environment were suddenly talking about the amazing creatures that live in the oceans, the clever techniques used to film them and, most of all, the enormous damage that humans are wreaking on them through our rubbish, especially plastic.

Well, obviously that caught my attention and last weekend, I finally got a chance to watch the last episode. It’s very powerful – you can see a clip about the impact of plastic on albatrosses on the BBC website.

In some parts of the ocean, there are over half a million pieces of plastic for every square kilometre!

Something that Sir David Attenborough said at the end of the Blue Planet II series struck home for me: “We are at a unique stage in our history – never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet and never before have we had the power to do something about it.”

That perfectly sums up something I’m always telling people. So often I hear people saying “There’s so much waste, the stuff I recycle is just a drop in the ocean” – but actually, what we do as individuals is tremendously important to our planet. The more plastic we each recycle, the less needs to be made. When you recycle plastics at the kerbside in Colchester, they’re processed in the UK or Europe (none goes to China) and turned into new products, helping to protect our environment.

The average UK household produces an entire tonne of waste each year. You have the power to make a big difference!

Sounds like a massive responsibility… but actually, cutting down on plastic is really easy! Because of my relentless nagging, we’ve always recycled a lot in my house, but since hearing about the plastic problems in the ocean we’ve made some more little changes. Now we use (and waste) less than ever!

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If everyone reading this uses less plastic, all our little drops in the ocean could add up to a sea of change!  Tell your friends and family and help Colchester to do better.

Recycling by numbers, and painting a greener picture

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Plastic Symbols

I’m glad that so many of you have caught the recycling bug. I’m certain that Colchester is a far cleaner and greener place than when I started this blog – you’re turning into recycling superstars!
 
In this post, I just wanted to talk a bit more about what can and can’t be recycled ­­– especially when it comes to dealing with those pesky plastics at home.
 
Everyone recognises the triangle made up of arrows that is the international symbol for recycling (it was designed by a 23-year old Californian way back in 1970, did you know?). But do you know what the cryptic numbers in the symbol means?
 
Each number gives us key information on what kind of plastic it is and where it can be recycled. The numbers go from 1-7, and here in Colchester we can recycle plastics that have been marked with 1,2,3,4 or 5.
 
Let me tell you a bit more about them…
 
1 or PETE, Everyone likes PETE, so 92% of councils recycle him. Sometimes called PET, this is what many drinks bottles and fruit containers will be made from.
 
2 or HDPE, Is usually used for bottles of all kinds because it doesn’t leach, or release anything harmful when used. It can be reused more and more with the new recycling methods.
 
3 or PVC, Not really used much in packaging so you won’t often come across it. Although it is used in some, but not all plastic toys.
 
4 or LDPE, will be used for carrier bags and to keep cans together in packs. It’s also used in some food wrapping. We are able to recycle it more and more, which is ace!
 
5 or PP, It wasn’t always easy to recycle PP but recently it’s become much more common. Look out for it in soup tubs and most bottle tops.
 
Unfortunately we can’t recycle 6 or 7. 6 is polystyrene, which is used less and less in packaging because it is so hard to recycle. 7 is all the plastics that don’t fit into any other category. It’s quite literally a mixed bag of tough-to-recyclables so best to avoid these if you can.
 
When it comes to making the most of the plastic you can recycle, the guys at the recycling processing plant have you covered. But there are a few things you can do to help them out with your plastics.
 
Make sure you empty your bottles and packaging and give it a quick rinse before they go in the clear bag. If they are soap bottles or something similar you will need to remove the pump as this can’t be recycled. Remember you can squash it all up to make more space.
 
You can find out more about how easy it is to recycle your plastics, here.
 
Remember that it’s not just in the kitchen that you will find recyclable plastics. Make sure you pop your shampoo and cleaner bottles in the magic clear bags too.
 
And as always star recyclers, thanks for reading.

The sign of a good party is a full recycling bin

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I just love eating outside in the summer and you can’t beat a BBQ. I had some friends over at the weekend, we cooked up a storm, but the amount of plastic recycling I had from mushrooms, burgers, sausages and bread rolls was staggering!

We collect most types of household plastic packaging in Colchester: food and drinks such as tubs, trays, pots and bottles.

Here’s where I use my booming radio voice to introduce Part 3 of our video suite – looking at what happens to your plastic recycling:

The plastic gets separated at the processing plant into the different types. This work is done by machine, but if you’re turning into a recycling geek like me you can tell the different types by looking at the number in the middle of the recycling triangle on the packaging. In Colchester we collect everything between the numbers 1-5, but not 6 or 7.

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To cut a fairly long processing story short – the plastic is broken down into flakes and then cleaned. These are melted down and moulded back into plastic products including, bollards, recycling boxes, drainage pipes, park benches, food and drinks packaging and (which surprised me) even fleece jackets.

You can recycle plastic bottles, pots, tubs, trays, bags, film and wrapping (from magazines, cereal packet liners and cling film), blister packs and plant pots.

The things you can’t recycle are: chemical bottles, hard plastic toys, polystyrene, bubble wrap, electronic items, cat food pouches, crisp bags, CD cases or things made of a hard plastic like washing up bowls.

If you’d like to find out more about what you can and can’t recycle, check the full list on our website here.

Next week I hope to look at paper recycling and where that goes.

Until then, keeeeeep recycling!