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Plastics & recycling

From Martyn F

Thursday, 11 January 2018

While it is good that our Prime Minister has finally made a statement about plastic waste and the need to reduce it, her timetable is far far too long (25 years) and seems like she is really saying: 'Carry on as you are' at least for some years to come.

Plastic packaging is unnecessary in most cases. All  supermarkets use plastic packaging for meat products. Surely if the Government were serious they would impose tariffs on the companies using this packaging. After all what is the real cost of something like a pack of disposable nappies? These are a big problem for Councils who have little choice but to send to landfill.

Why is it that Wales has a far higher recycling rate than the rest of the UK? Can we trust the figures we are given about recycling when it is evident that most have been sending their plastic waste to China. That isn't recycling, it's dumping. 

Yet it counted as recycling in terms of the % of rubbish Calderdale & Other Councils were claiming they recycled. We should be recycling our own waste in the UK, whatever it is. 

The old metal recycling bins in town were great - you put your bottles in the glass one, your newspapers & cardboard in another, tin in another & plastics in another but now it all goes in a green recycling bin. Someone has to collect this from our home & then someone else has to sort through all this, which costs money. With the old bins, it was already sorted. Is that progress?

When I was a child, most things were in glass bottles which were returnable & you also got a deposit refunded for the effort. Are we really getting better at recycling or are we simply being fed lots of meaningless data about recycling that looks good but isn't. 

The consumer can make a difference at a local and a national level. Complain about packaging, don't buy stuff that has too much, use shops that minimise packaging but above all make your views about it known to the shop concerned. 

There are small businesses in the area trying to recycle plastics but business generally will only use such services if it saves them money from day one. Unfortunately, plastic recycling companies cannot offer this as the savings are likely to take time to come through. Business, like capitalism generally, is focused on short term profit. 

I'm sure there are people more knowledgeable than myself who can advise on things we can all do to reduce plastics and waste generally. Local organizations can be very effective in improving awareness and changing attitudes and Hebden Bridge is just the kind of place to take a lead. 

From Rob Blake

Monday, 15 January 2018

This is a subject close to my heart.

I live by the river and I find it shocking how much plastic waste sails past everyday en route to the ocean.

I do a bit of litter picking here and there, and try to be involved with the annual spring clean when I can.

The problem is much bigger than any of us though, and even with the efforts of local heroes like Trevor Bannister, the plastic just keeps on coming.

It turns out there is a very simple solution - technology exists to turn plastic back into oil. It can be done quickly, cheaply and easily, and if Calderdale council had a plant to do this, they could run their entire fleet of vehicles of the resulting oil and other petrochemicals.

Burning fuel is obviously not brilliant for the environment but in cases where fuel is going to be burnt anyway, it must be better that it comes from the the plastic that would have otherwise found it's way into the rivers and oceans.

If waste plastic had a value as a fuel, people could make money from collecting it and the problem would quickly be solved. Here are a few links:

The eight steps in turning plastic back into oil

Turning Plastic to Oil, UK. Startup Sees Money in Saving Oceans

Plastic Energy

and a look and the potential problems:

Garbage in, energy out: creating biofuel from plastic waste

From Adrian Crowther

Saturday, 20 January 2018

I contacted the Council to see if i could get any information about what happened to “our” recycling after collection. I must admit I was expecting a generic response but I received the following:

“Thank you for your enquiry regarding the final destination of your recycling.  Once the recycling is collected it is delivered to our site on High Level Way in Halifax, where each of the materials are bulked together.  The individual materials are then delivered on to other outlets – tins/cans and plastics are delivered to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Kirklees, where they are separated into separate material streams and then compacted into baled material for onward reprocessing, these are then sold on to the highest bidder (these are resources now which once collected by Suez belong to them), this is usually in the UK.  Food waste goes to a processing plant, RE: FOOD, where it is turned into a material suitable for composting and the gas generated from this runs through a turbine generating electricity, textiles are collected by Bag It Up which works alongside the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity and I believe the good quality clothes are then sent to countries in need of clothes, and poor quality are recycled into rags, the glass bottles and jars are sent to Berrymans in Knottingley, and recycled back into glass packaging, tetrapak cartons are reprocessed in the UK into card products, cardboard and paper are separated and bulked up and sent to the Sonocco paper processing plant here in Calderdale.”

My interest is now piqued. I may contact the other organisations mentioned to see what happens to the items which are sold-on.