Christmas has come and gone, and amid the unwanted socks and numerous toiletry gift sets are piles of wrapping paper. While many of us will put our wrapping paper out to be recycled, the fact is that lots of people won’t – it is estimated that an astounding 500 tons of Christmas tree lights will be thrown away, along with 25 million bin liners full of plastic wrapping, drink bottles, and broken toys. What is worse is that this is in the UK alone – and while the numbers are bound to be higher in the US, one thing that won’t be is the small amount of refuse that is actually recyclable.
A recently survey conducted by home drinks maker SodaStream revealed that plastic recycling, especially over the festive period, is lower than it should be. On top of that, plastic usage worldwide is increasing so much that the world’s oceans are filled with massive islands of plastic debris, and in the developing world plastic is burned as a source of fuel – in turn leading to the release of toxins into the atmosphere.
According to PlasticsEurope, the European trade association for plastics manufacturers, it is estimated that 265 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year. In the UK, about two-thirds of this is for packaging. During Christmas, this number increases – and it simply doesn’t meet the EU’s recycling goal of 33%. In the UK, it is estimated that 113 million tons of plastic will be sent to be burned each year.
While many people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use by switching to ethical products such as biodegradable plastics made from cornstarch, it is still a niche sector and an expensive one. The problem with recycling plastics is that it is not only expensive, but it is also difficult as there are so many types and because it is difficult to remove contamination. As a result, incineration is the only alternative. So before you throw away your holiday waste, consider the global impact of binning it and where it will end up.
Via The Guardian