Different Continent; Same Problem.

My family and I recently returned to the UK after 11 years living in Australia. During this time the media and information surrounding our waste and what was happening to it was becoming more and more disturbing. The main concern and underlying narrative of all this new information was that our waste, especially plastic waste was increasing dramatically.

Yes you might say, “I know this to be true, but I also recycle responsibly and clean my plastic bottles and packaging and put them in the correct bin”. Here lies the problem; most people feel they are doing the ‘right thing’ (as do I). The trouble is that not all plastic is not ending up where it should.

We think that when we do our recycling like good citizens, the recycled waste ends up at the treatment plant or recycling depot to be processed and then go back into the material chain as a form of recycled plastic. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE. A lot of our plastic waste is ending up on someone elses’ doorstep! Namely economically poorer countries, such as Malaysia and India and left for them to deal with, and in most cases go to landfill.

Plastic recycling waste from western countries ending up in landfill in Malaysia

It turns out it is much cheaper to put our plastic waste on a ship and send it to other parts of the world rather than deal with it in our own country. And this seems to be the trend in the Western world as it was reported in Australia and now returning to the UK, I can see the same thing happening here.

What is the answer… Well you can blame governments, you can blame the companies involved in the processing of plastics, the makers of plastics…. the list goes on. But in the end the buck really has to stop with us. We are all only ever really responsible for our own mind and our own actions, by reducing the amount of plastic we consume and in turn ‘recycle’ we can affect this trend in a positive way.

The only way to move forward is to look at our own actions rather than thinking other people are to blame or that they will ‘mop’ up our mess.

Gary Pennington – Owner District Furniture

I personally will we be trying to reduce the amount of plastics I consume and eventually eradicate it all together. I know my weakness is coffee, so I need to be armed with a ‘keep cup’ at all times. And my forgetfulness leads to always needing to buy a plastic bag at the checkout. I’m going to start with these two small actions and then expand into larger ways to eradicate plastics from my life. We can all do it and for the sake of everyone and our planet we all need to do it.

Written by Gary Pennington

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