North East Connected

5 ways to cut down on single-use plastics

Single use plastics are plastics that are designed to be used once before being recycled or thrown away. Some of the most common single use plastics include coffee stirrers, bags, straws, and packaging on food. Households have been stepping up their recycling efforts, with the rate of household recycling rising to 45% in 2019. The government hope to increase this number to 50% by the end of this year.

As damaging as plastics can be, we still rely on their use, for example, plastic protects our food from damage and contamination. There are positive ways that plastic can be used, but the issue of plastic waste needs to be addressed. So, what can we do to cut down on single-use plastics? Green Energy have given us their five top tips.

1.     Step up your recycling efforts

We know it sounds obvious, but it can go a long way. More and more items are becoming recyclable – you can recycle the majority of items in your bathroom and kitchen. Recycling household packaging has such a positive impact on the environment, it decreases the need to use raw materials that save energy. For instance, it takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic compared to raw materials.

2.     Ditch single-use coffee cups

Pop a reusable, mug/bottle in your bag when you’re out. – you could even save money by doing this. For example; by taking along your own bottle, most high street coffee chains will reduce the price of the coffee. If you don’t have your own travel mug, why not ask for the coffee without the plastic lid?

3.     Invest in a reusable water bottle

If you tend to drink a lot of water on the go, remember to take your own water bottle out with you! Plastic bottles make up a large proportion of plastic waste. Purchasing plastic bottles of water can mount up in cost, it may not seem it at the time, but adding up the amount spent over time, can be significant.

4.     Ditch plastic cutlery and straws

Next time you order a drink, think about whether you do actually need a straw. The UK uses an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws every year and the government has now brought in new rules to restrict their availability from April 2020. For example; Macdonalds and Costa have phased out plastic straws and now both only provide straws that are 100% recyclable.

5.     Always carry a shopping bag

Since the plastic carrier bag charge was introduced in England, positively, plastic bag sales in the ‘big seven’ supermarkets is down 86% since the 5p charge was introduced.

A lot of plastic waste is generated in the kitchen of the majority of households. One of the most effective ways of reducing plastic waste is by taking your own bags when you are going to a supermarket.

You can also pressure your supermarket into reducing the plastic they use, if everyone picked loose fruit and vegetables over heavily packed equivalents, over time this can help sway big companies’ decisions to offer this to a wider variety of products and further reduce plastic waste. This has the added benefit of normally being cheaper but reducing food waste as you only need to pick the amount you need.

What can your business do to reduce plastic waste?

Stocking up on weekly fruit for staff to enjoy is a great way to keep everyone in your office health – just make sure that you grab the loose fruit, rather than the packaged versions.

Keeping a few bags for life in your office is a great idea – staff can reuse these on their lunch breaks to make sure they aren’t contributing to the plastic bag problem.

Making just a few small changes can make a huge difference in cutting down your plastic use.

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