I’ve seen these popping up around Auckland, mainly in New World supermarkets and The Warehouse, along with various articles on the internet about how great these are and that they address one area of recycling that was really lacking.
Well I can’t help but have a not so positive view of them. Obviously I think that it’s better than soft plastics continuing to go into the landfill (or storm water drains, bushes, and everywhere else I find rubbish) but I can’t help but feel that this is an ineffective cop-out response to a very real and damaging problem.
First and foremost, it does not change the fact that plastic is produced using oil. Oil is a limited resourced that we are running out of at such a quick rate that we are risking all kinds of damage to our environment to source more of it, and there are horrific wars all around the world in the name of oil (read more about our quest for more oil here). Secondly, most of what we use soft plastic for, we don’t actually need.
While the recycling of anything is always going to be better than nothing, it doesn’t address the real problem and it takes away from finding sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. It makes people feel okay about buying things in soft plastic because they think there is now an environmentally okay way of disposing of the rubbish.
Single-use products are ever increasing in the name of convenience and people genuinely believe it’s okay to use plastic items for one time only as long as they recycle it afterwards. Here are 6 reasons why recycling is not the holy grail of sustainability OR being environmentally friendly:
- The resources used in the production of the item are usually unsustainable (i.e. they are either a limited resource, damage is done in obtaining them, or both).
- There is a large amount of energy used and wasted in producing the item, as well as recycling it.
- A lot of single use items still cannot be recycled
- Every time an item is recycled its quality is reduced
- Recycling does nothing to encourage reducing our waste- which is what would actually have some positive impacts on our environment, and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Most things that have been contaminated by food cannot be recycled