The WASUP Plastic Cycle
Plastic is used by everyone, every single day across the world. Be it for home or business use, it is the largest used piece of engineering on the planet. It’s also the worst for our environment.
Did You Know?
- Globally 1M bottles a day, 1M cups a day and 2M plastic bags are used.
- Annually – 8M tons finds its way into the oceans – almost 10% of this is from fishing lines.
- By 2025 plastic in the ocean will double
- By 2050 more plastic weight in the ocean than fish weight. i.e. a 500% increase in plastic.
What is Microplastic?
You may hear the phrase often, microplastics are the most dangerous form to the environment, do you know what it is? Microplastics are basically small plastic pieces less than five millimetres long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.
Microbeads are also considered microplastic. They are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic. They are added to beauty and health products. You may also find them in products such as toothpaste and certain cleansers.
Microplastics have now found their way into the digestive system and are seriously affecting wildlife. Walruses who have eaten molluscs and fish have had microplastic found in their excretions. While it’s also been shown that microplastics affect hormone production in birds, leading to beliefs by scientists that it’s leaving them infertile.
Impact of Plastic on Marine Life
Here are some of the potential impacts of plastic on marine life.
- Fish are mistaken as edible
- Fish mistake plastic as fish eggs
- Fish feed on coral and also hide. Plastic actively destroys coral.
- Lethal bacteria – on the seabed bacteria has been found that is similar to cholera that can grow on plastic.
- Plastic floats just under the surface of the water. This means that birds mistake it for fish and eat it, and even feed it to their chicks in some cases.
- The sheer weight of plastic within a seabird stops it from flying and starves their chicks.
Dangers of Plastics to Humans
Plastic doesn’t just pose a threat to wildlife. There is a much larger threat than you’d imagine to humans.
- Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in a global study (Carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters do the job)
- In 2018 microplastic found in human stool!
- Toxic chemicals from plastic are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us
- Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments
- Bisphenol A in plastic bottles BPA is toxic – so get BPA free reusable bottles
Recycling in Partnership with Walkers
TerraCycle® and Walkers® have partnered to create a free recycling scheme which accepts all crisp packets.
You can drop off your used crisp packets at public drop off locations across the UK and Ireland – find your local one here. If you don’t have one nearby, why not set one up today? Everyone can get involved: individuals, companies, charities, community groups and schools.
Reward points are also on offer, which means you could help raise money for local good causes. If you wish to read more about them you can follow this link.
Not Sure What You Can Recycle?
If you’re not sure what you can recycle, we’ve put together a very simple list to help you organise your own waste.
Recycling Report from Diana Crabtree and Practical Ways to Help
The Waste Hierarchy is made up of the 3 ‘R’s:
REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE
By following these 3 R’s, the aim is that each household within the 2 counties will lower the amount of waste they produce.
This can be achieved in several ways:
• We want to reduce waste at source, so in terms of food, don’t buy as much-plan for meals on a weekly basis and only buy what you need.
• If you have a compost bin in your garden, certain food waste can go in there instead of in the black bin.
• If time/budget allows, try buying food from Farmer’s Markets or shops where you take your own container to put it in-therefore eliminating packaging. (Reduce your food source, try and plan shopping in advance, compost more at home with potato peelings and coffee grounds. Try and buy Farm/village shop products where possible and take your own bags/containers to fill thereby reducing your carbon footprint and plastic containers)
Even though you may have finished using an item eg clothes, books, toys, other people may like to continue using it so think about (Try and reuse furniture (upcycle) Try and reuse clothes or buy and/or drop off old loved “stuff” too) charity shops, toys to hospitals or playgroups or donate free online freecycle…www.freecycle.org or sell via various facebook posts.
Some products are made of materials which can be used again so either recycle in the green
bin or take to a household recycling centre so that it can be turned into a new product. (Recycle or upcycle clothes, furniture, much-loved items into other things)
All the above 3Rs reduce waste in the long run.
Mercia currently holds our county’s contract for waste disposal, on a 25-year contract. We currently have 5 years left on this contract. The sister company to Mercia are Severn Waste. Severn Waste is the ‘operating arm’ of Mercia so they are responsible for the collection and safe disposal of all household Waste. Severn Waste operates the recycling plant at Norton. (Merica subcontracts their recycling operational arm to Severn Waste Services who operate out of Norton.) (Severn Waste are) In essence, Envirosort (the recycling plant), is a sorting depot for
4. PAPER CARD / CARTON
Once the recyclable objects have been sorted into their individual materials, they are made into bales which are sold on to other companies for further processing. (After this process has been sorted, all the plastic; tins/cans etc get balled into large compressed squares and wired together which then get sold on to the next processing process or plant…for either melting or shredding). NO bales are sold to China but only UK recycling companies and every 3 years the paperwork and sites of the bale buyers are checked and visited by Severn Waste.
For Your Information
When Mercia Waste signed the contract with the councils in 1998, about 90% of household waste from the 2 counties went to landfill. Due to Envirosort being built, the public is educated and the Energy from Waste plant in Hartlebury being built, this figure has been drastically reduced to just under 10%. All green bin material comes to Envirosort to be
recycled and all black bin waste now goes to Hartlebury (Envirecover) to be incinerated. The 10% going to landfill consists of the bottom ash from the incinerator and any excess waste which comes in above the 200,000 tonnes we are allowed to incinerate each year. We are in the process of applying for this permit to be raised to 230,000 tonnes per year. (The UK has
been recycling for approx. 20 years….and at the start of this recycling journey 90% of our waste used to go to landfill. The energy was harnessed from the burning of such waste. Now in 2019 Wychavon are pleased to say that only 9.7% of their landfill waste is burnt…the rest is all recycled. The bottom ash is stored at the landfill site and once a year, a Dutch company comes and sifts it for metals. We are looking into using this ash for aggregate. (Whether the ash from burning landfill is stockpiled and then used for road cover under tarmac, or whether a Dutch company comes and extract metals from our waste…Hartlebury burns approximately 200,000 tons (which is the national limit). Unfortunately, with all our new builds popping up around our county we are going to have to increase this to 230,000 next year.) Black bin waste is burnt, the energy from this burning goes to make electricity which runs the burning plant, anything left over gets sold to the national grid and this process currently generates a profit. Landfill gases like methane are also collected and turned into energy and sold to the national grid as well. (Currently approx. 335,000 homes in Wychavon are serviced by Severn waste Services..-I don’t know what this figure is)
Envirosort (The Severn Waste Services sorting depot)
Works Monday-Friday. This is operated on a with two shifts loop system running covering the hours from 8 am – 11 pm with approx. 50 people per shift. When our recycle bins have been emptied into the big green roadside vans, they are taken to
Envirosort, which is an MRF-sent to a materials reclamation facility. Severn Waste services in at Norton. Here the huge trucks empty our recyclable contents into the tipping bay on to the ground. From here, a CAT 938 scoops a load up (about a tonne in each scoop) and tips it onto the conveyor belt. First of all the materials go through a pre-sort cabin where people hand pick anything off the line which shouldn’t have been put in the green bin. The most common things are black plastic, carrier bags, dirty nappies, bags of dog poo, clothes and food, but we have had a dead, 8-foot python as well as a bag of drowned kittens! the ground a forklift truck picks up all the stuff and puts it on a conveyor belt and it is then first of all pre-sorted by hand….from carrier bags/nappies/ dog poo and food / drowned kittens to a dead boa constrictor…From presort, the recyclables make their way through 4 lots of machinery to be sorted into their individual materials. The end products are then on a journey into four individual skips
1. The first sorting assembly line is for glass.
All the recyclables drop about 4 feet onto waste is dropped 4 foot onto metal rotating disks, the gravity of the fall shatters the glass and rotating disks let the broken and chopped up glass fall into a lower conveyor belt which then goes into the Glass skip
2. The Ballistic Separator
This second phase is basically a green cube walking floor which allows the machine to distinguish between 2D and 3D objects…. tins/cans/plastic bottles etc…all 3D items go down one direction and all 2D flattened and crushed card and paper go into another direction
3. Magnet Separator
For all 3D items, a huge magnet is suspended over the conveyor belt. The magnet collects all steel cans and drops them into one chute. In order to collect aluminium cans, an eddy current is produced (opposite to a magnet) which repels them down another chute.
4. Plastic Separator
What is left over at the end of the three above processes should only be plastic which is then optically sorted by machine? A beam of light shines down onto the black conveyor belt and if the beam hits something then the light is bounced back, and a puff of air is released which puffs light plastic into a sorting chute.
NO BLACK PLASTICS OF ANY SORT IS RECYCLABLE – BLACK BIN BAGS/PLASTIC FOOD TRAYS/CONTAINERS ETC cannot be recycled, as the machine will not recognise black plastic on a black conveyor belt…for this reason, it is NOT recyclable.
The plastic is then optically sorted into
1. PET = clear plastic, coke bottles etc down one shute into a skip for bailing
2. HDPE…opaque plastic = milk plastic bottles down one shite into a skip for bailing
3. MIXED…yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, bleach and all other coloured bottles down one shute for bailing YES CLEAN (as people hand pick them!), RINSED OUT (to avoid contamination) AND DRY AND LOOSE IN GREEN BINS (not in bin bags)
Labels can be left on bottles/tins/cans etc
Bottle (bleach, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel)
Pot (pot noddle)
Tray (not black plastic)
Tub (not black plastic)
Margarine lids and bases, Plastic tops loosely screwed onto plastic bottles, Glass Jars with metal lids loosely screwed on.
Perfume bottles (minus spray attachment if possible)
All coloured glass
Spray bottles (minus spray gun and tube)
Any paper material
Any cardboard (squashed down)
Any cartons (squashed
Any glass jars (with labels on)
Toilet empty rolls and kitchen towel empty rolls
Any pet food tins (washed and dry)
Shredded paper(put into an envelope or cereal box) not loose
Wrapping paper…if it rips and stays scrunched up when you let it go then yes
No to food as they would prefer we REDUCE our food waste (3Rs) )
No glitter or shiny paper
Wrapping paper scrunch test, if springs apart in hand then NO
No to Pringle tubes
No to cling film
No to polystyrene
No to bubble wrap
No photo plastic paper
No sandwich containers with plastic inside them
No to Pyrex…melt at higher temps
No to mirrors…melt at higher temps
No to broken glass and dishes…melt at higher temps
No to deodorant roll-ons
No to pill foil packets
No to light bulbs
No to blue recycle wet paper towels
No to used tissues
No to kitchen roll paper
No to tin foil…perhaps we can collect this and I can take it to Worcester Dump myself can be put in foil bank or metal skip at the household recycling centre.
Garden/potatoes compost bags for home use only
For Your Information
One glass bottle recycled turns into 1 hour electricity of watching TV
One aluminium can recycled can power a microwave for up to three meals
1 shower bottle can power a toaster for 3 rounds of toast
Envirosort (Wychavon)recycles 70,000 tonnes (of waste) a year from 335,000 homes which are the equivalent of 1928 double-decker buses.
260,000 tonnes of waste in Worcestershire in 2018.
Council spent £32 million on waste in 2018.
Each person wastes about 500kg of waste per year.
37% of household waste is food.
Food waste costs the council £5-6 million a year to dispose of.
Severn Waste Services-to see the animation of how Envirosort works.
Letswasteless-Worcs Council website
TerraCycle-recycles obscure things. Put in a postcode and it tells you your nearest collection point.