Workplaces can play a significant role in cutting the amount of plastic that goes to landfill, according to workplace equipment supplier Slingsby, after research revealed that the UK is one of Europe’s worst offenders when it comes to disposing of plastic.
Research from Plastics Europe, which is a European trade association for plastic manufacturers, studied plastic recycling rates in 29 countries and the results revealed some major variations across the continent.
The UK is Europe’s third largest producer of plastic, behind Germany and Italy. However, 69% of the UK’s waste plastic is landfilled which means we sit in 22nd place out of the 29 countries when it comes to recycling and recovering plastic. Nine countries in the study successfully recover and recycle almost all the plastic they generate.
Slingsby supplies more than 35,000 workplace products across all industries including an extensive range of recycling products and equipment. The company’s marketing director Lee Wright, explained: “In recent decades plastic has become one of the world’s most common and convenient materials due to it being extremely durable, lightweight and cheap but it is difficult to dispose of which can make it problematic at the end of its lifespan.
“It is estimated that just over a third of waste plastic is produced by businesses and workplaces and while most forward thinking organisations have taken steps to improve their green credentials in recent years, there is nearly always room for improvement. The plastics industry has set a target to send zero plastic waste to landfill by 2020 and while there is clearly a lot of work to do to achieve this, there are also rewards out there for businesses that embrace the challenge.
“In many cases CSR and zero waste policies can reduce waste disposal costs and even generate revenue if recyclables can be resold. Plus customers increasingly want to know that products they buy are made responsibly and many select suppliers purely on this basis.”
Lee continued: “Where possible, businesses should continually explore new ways of preventing and reducing waste and always ensure that it is efficiently segregated which simplifies the recycling procedure and emphasises the importance of it.
“This is particularly important where plastics are concerned because most can be recycled and those that can’t will often provide feedstock for waste to energy facilities that produce electricity and heat. Businesses producing plastics also have a moral responsibility to consider whether their products can be improved to make them better prepared for re-use because ultimately plastic products and plastic waste should go hand in hand.”