Over the last century, humans have produced a great amount of plastic goods due to its cheap production and versatile nature. Unfortunately, when these products are cast aside, they are polluting are atmosphere and land. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest concerns for our planet right now.
However, with situations including a plastic waste island in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of France, it’s clear that a lot more has to be done. Currently, people dump over eight million tons of plastic into the oceans each year, according to Plastic Oceans Foundation. But, what exactly can we do to halt this? In the UK, there are in the region of 13 billion plastic bottles used each year — with only 7.5 billion currently being recycled. Here, we take a look at some of the best ways our plastic can be recycled to ensure that we limit the damage to our planet.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we can buy items of clothing that were once part of a plastic bottle we’d have drank from. With the likes of polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres forms of plastic, companies can use recycled plastic to help create their new garments. Did you know that it only takes approximately 10 bottles to create enough plastic fibre for a new t-shirt? As well as this, the insulation in a ski jacket can be created by just 14 recycled bottles.
The UK is a nation of outdoor lovers — even if we don’t always get the weather that’ll help us best use our outdoor space! Studies have found that the average Brit spends over two hours a week in their garden space. Many take pride in their outdoor area and love to entertain guests throughout the year. To do so, they need a space that is suitable, and decking has seen a huge increase in popularity. Since first being released in 1990, composite decking boards have grown in popularity as they are low maintenance, look like real wood, and have a long life span. These boards are made up of 95% recycled wood fibres and plastic, making them environmentally friendly as well as easy to upkeep.
Great news! You can soon relax in the knowledge that you’re being environmentally sustainable while lying in bed! Ecozee, a company that is set to launch bed sheets made from recycled plastic, states it is going to help you ‘save the environment in your sleep’. With the average plastic having a ‘useful life’ of approximately 15 minutes, it’s clear to see that bed sheets made from recycled plastic will turn this into a much greater lifespan!
It’s not just companies who can create great uses for old plastic. Users on social media channels are always sharing the DIY skills regarding old plastic material. Stand out examples include jewellery stands, themed plant pots, and pencil organisers — all created using the bottom of plastic bottles and milk bottles. Some much more extravagant examples by those with creative flair include hanging chandeliers and Christmas trees!
Moving away from home comforts, did you know that many forms of transport use recycled plastics in production? In 2018, vehicle manufacturer Volvo set itself a goal of using 25% recycled plastics in cars by 2025. This can range from fishing nets to old bottles and can be used in areas such as dashboards and carpets. Currently, the company states that approximately five per cent of plastics in its cars are made from recycled materials.
Elsewhere, in 2017, pilot and environmentalist Jeremy Rowsell made history by flying a light aircraft across Australia using conventional fuel that was mixed with fuel which derived from plastic waste. This journey, which saw him travel 500 miles from Sydney to Melbourne, saw the fuel used include a blend made up of 10% end-of-life plastic that was usually found in the ocean and landfill sites. It was a breakthrough in potential future fuels for light aircrafts.
Of course, there are many other ways plastic can be recycled. And, when you recycle materials, it uses far less energy than creating them new, so recycling has many benefits. While recycling is a major topic of discussion, we still have a large scope for improvements regarding the subject in order to help save our planet. It’s not just up to companies to use recyclable products either, so recycle today to reap the rewards tomorrow!