How much plastic actually gets recycled?

Most people in the UK regularly recycle plastic, but how much is actually recycled?

Households up and down the country, to varying degrees, dutifully clean and sort their recycling each week. Glass, card, plastic and tins. With metals and glass, we can all have good confidence that recycling actually turns into reuse. But with plastic, it's a different story.

With so many variations, we just don't know.

Clean, mixed or dirty. PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, etc. White plastic, black plastic, brittle or flexible. Honestly, who knows what can, and can't be recycled? And herein lies the problem. It actually isn't so important what actually can or can't be recycled, as so much of it never gets recycled in the first place. 

Recycling is a postcode lottery

The BBC recently revealed a truth we all knew was hidden in plain sight: that plastic is often not recycled at all, and national variation in recycling rates varies hugely. In fact, there are currently 39 different rules governing what can and can't be recycled. Rates of recycling vary as much as attitudes to recycling do. All added together, the plain truth is that plastic recycling is too complicated, too unreliable and unsustainable. See plastic use in numbers to get a better sense of how this is only set to get worse (except in Kenya)!

Recycling plastic is a business, not a cause

A further complexity around plastic recycling is that some is of value, and some not. On the whole all plastic recycling is becoming less valuable over time, but whilst there is money to be made, people will cut corners. For the past couple of decades, our councils turned a blind eye and shipped the problem overseas, but as countries like China and Thailand start banning waste imports, we will have to either find alternative places to dump our problem, pay more for the same solution or have to sort it out closer to home.  

It's time to rethink plastic, rather than re-work recycling

Glass, metal, paper and card are all well recycled in this country. Yet it is plastic that remains the problem. What we need to come to terms with is that companies need to remove their dependence on plastic and find alternative solutions. At Kairn we started with being plastic free as a founding principle. Presently we believe we are the only plastic free shaving company in the UK and will be working hard to change how the industry and consumers think about plastic free shaving. 

Plastic free shaving range from Kairn

Discover our plastic free shaving range

Take a look at our plastic free shave products, shave oils, skin balms and lotions, and skin washes. They are all in glass bottles, with metal lids and plastic-free paper and packaging. Oh, and they're wonderful products too. Enjoy shaving, without the plastic!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published