Last week (Week 1) we started to collect our plastic waste and put it aside rather than put it in our recycling bin. We managed to collect a surprising amount of plastic waste in a relatively short amount of time. The volume of waste in our recycling bin was massively reduced as a result. We also noticed that the amount of rubbish in our general rubbish bin was reduced by half as well. The reason for this is that there is a lot of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled, or more accurately is not accepted for recycling by our local council.
This includes soft plastics, such as:
- cling or film wrap
- plastic bags
- bread bags
- magazine and newspaper wraps
- food packaging
- old 'reusable' shopping bags.
- polystyrene food/meat trays and cups
- polystyrene packaging
With these items removed from our general rubbish, not only did we not need to empty the bin in our kitchen between refuse collection days, but we also never managed to fill our main general rubbish bin up. The impact on general refuse processing is obvious, That's half the amount of general rubbish going into landfill, not only is this a massive saving on infrastructure costs, but the plastic items that cannot be processed are kept out of landfills, and thats a massive environmental win.
Of course, it's fine to get all excited about the possibilities of what can be done in a little experiment like this, but how do we make this happen in reality? We feel that this 'Trashbin Challenge' is the first step in raising awareness and that it could actually make a difference. Even just two weeks in, we are massively surprised by exactly how much plastic waste we create, it's not until you collect it and retain it in one place that you really get any idea of how much plastic you consume. If we can spread the word and get people to do the 'Trashbin Challenge', we have a good chance of raising awareness by giving people not only first hand experience but experience that is specifically tailored to each and every participant. With any luck it might just make people think twice about their choices when doing the weekly shop.
With the right information and education we can also arm people with the strategies needed to recycle at home or at a local community recycling station. If opportunities promoting circular plastic usage are provided to enable people to turn their own plastic waste into new items, then those items that would not have otherwise been recycled could be turned into something new rather than end up in the local landfill.
So how are we looking after week 2 of our Trashbin Challenge? As you can see from the following photo, our plastic pile is about double what we had after week 1.