Businesses Can Help Cut Plastic Waste Pollution

BLOG: The Mechanics of Effective Recycling

Plastic waste in our oceans has become one of the biggest global issues. HSM’s David Coleman calls for more businesses to address their plastics waste management solutions if we are to remedy this issue.

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Plastic waste in our oceans has become one of the biggest global issues. HSM’s David Coleman calls for more businesses to address their plastics waste management solutions if we are to remedy this issue…

It’s no secret that our global plastic waste is causing serious harm to our oceans. You may already be aware of some of the striking news stories that have surfaced recently. From the stories of turtles entangled by six-pack holders and plastic bags to the photograph that was taken of a seahorse grasping a cotton swab.

And those are just two examples.

The troubling thing is: this isn’t a new issue. The reality of plastic waste in oceans has been exacerbating over a number of years. What’s more; if we are to carry on, it’s only going to get irreparably worse.

Solving the issue is about as large and complex as the ocean itself. Because of this, it’s important to look at how we can reduce the amounts of plastic waste slipping through the net.

To do this, we must start by managing waste more efficiently within our businesses.

Plastics by the second
Every second, the equivalent of one large garbage truck worth of plastic waste enters our oceans.

To put this into perspective, Sky’s “Ocean Rescue” campaign created a giant quarter-ton whale called “Plasticus”. This is made entirely out of plastic to represent the amount of plastics that enter the ocean every second.

Not only is this plastic polluting our oceans, but it’s also causing severe damage to our marine life.

Research also suggests that, if fish are ingesting plastics, then we may well be too.

The Farm Project, an initiative actioned by actress Zooey Deschanel and her husband Jacob Pechenik, highlighted this issue in a recent video. If plastic is making its way into the stomachs of sea life, then who’s to say it’s not ending up in ours, too?

As part of an initiative to combat this, companies such as Iceland, Evian and Unilever are joining the 2025 movement. Brands involved in the movement are forming plans that will aid sustainability. Evian, for example, are planning to replace all of their bottles with 100% recycled plastic bottles by 2025, whilst Iceland pledge to go plastic free on its own label  packaging by 2023.

Clearly, a lot needs to be done in terms of curing the problem, and this includes changing the way businesses are managing their plastic waste.

Prevention and cure

Last year, Greenpeace listed one of the main sources of plastic pollution as industrial leakage.

Put simply, this means that businesses are letting standards slide when it comes to their waste management. This leads to plastics escaping into the environment, potentially finding its way into our oceans.

Many businesses still aren’t looking to environmental technologies to effectively deal with their waste. This could be down to either the fact that businesses aren’t actively dealing with their waste management, or that they aren’t aware of the environmental technologies available to them. Or both.

It starts with plastic packaging
By 2050, Dame Ellen MacArthur has estimated that the amount of plastic in our oceans will out-weigh fish.

According to a report launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic packaging is an integral part of the global economy. The report notes that, over the last 50 years, plastics production has increased from 15 million tonnes to 311 million tonnes, and is still on the rise.

With that in mind, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to look to environmental technology in managing their waste production to do their part for recycling.

Some baling machines, for example, can reduce the volume of waste by up to 95%.

Utilising baling presses can not only minimise the volume of your waste, reducing the space it covers, but it also reduces costs and carbon footprint. This is because the bales can be easily transported in less journeys, so your business wouldn’t have to spend unnecessary money on transportation or skip hire.

In-turn, compressing waste enables a better logistics process which manages the waste in an effective way.

PET Plastics and baling solutions
In 2011, the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) said there were almost 5.5 million pounds of PET jars and bottles available for recycling, but of that figure only 29 per cent was recycled.

Now, more varied types of baler machines are available in the UK market, so businesses can use the baler best suited to their needs, such as the requirement to recycle plastics.

HSM UK offer a range of plastic perforating and baling systems, which are fully automatic and semi-automatic. These systems are specifically designed to puncture and compress plastic bottles; ideal for small and large end users.

All too often are businesses neglecting to consider the host of benefits such environmental machinery opens up.

Not only does baling result in more compact bales of waste, but it is also a return on investment. This means that businesses could be gaining money back on their waste rather than hiring skips or sending it to landfill. As of January 2018, the price per tonne of PET plastics could have fetched between £85 - £100, for example.

Considering this, in time, the machinery will have paid for itself and your business will have been saved unnecessary costs.

After-all, if we are to start doing our part to restore our oceans, investing in environmental technology is imperative as the first step.

David Coleman is Operations Director at HSM UK