The Milk Roadmap

May 27, 2008 at 1:59 pm

By 2020, 50% of packaging for milk should be made from recyclable material, according to targets set out in the Roadmap published earlier this month by Defra, in conjunction with the dairy industry. Dairy produce is something enjoyed by most of the population of the UK – most of us have a carton of milk in the fridge – but there is definitely room for improvement in the environmental impact of the industry.

The Roadmap looks at the green credentials of the process (production, processing and consumption) on a cradle-to-grave basis and focuses on areas where short-term, medium-term and long-term goals can be set. These goals include targets for a reduction in the use of water and increases in the use of renewable energy, as well as the ultimate goal of sending zero waste to landfill.

James Crick, of Nampak Plastics, says he is pleased to have been involved in the Roadmap and that he is confident that the target for introducing recyclable plastic for milk bottles will be met. His company was involved in producing the first ever recyclable plastic milk bottle and aims to provide its users with up to 10% recyclable content in 2008/09, putting them ahead of the game. The Roadmap’s targets are 10% by 2010, 30% by 2015 and 50% by 2020. This should result in a reduction by 2020 of 50,000 tonnes of virgin material.

The director of Dairy UK, the body which chaired the working group behind the Roadmap, feels that it is leading the way and setting an excellent example to other sectors, not only in the UK but globally.

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Carpet industry to boost recycling rates

May 14, 2008 at 1:07 pm

If you have recently bought a new carpet, the chances are that your old one has been stuffed in the garage or the loft, whilst you wonder what on earth to do with it. With space in landfill sites fast running out, it would be good to think that the carpet could be recycled but until recently this has been easier said than done.

Now carpet manufacturers, retailers and recyclers have got together in an attempt to boost recycling rates and address the problem. A group of fifteen have formed Carpet Recycling UK, mindful of the “growing concern” and “recognition that something should be done”. According to Kate Atkinson, who has set up the alliance, the savings in landfill fees will go some way towards the costs associated with collecting carpets from householders and sorting them.

One of the founder members is the Swindon based company, Greenback Recycling, which is the first organisation to process waste carpet materials (wool or plastics) and sell the resulting plastic recyclates to industries previously reliant on polypropylene, nylon or rubber.

If your local recycling facility does not yet support carpet recycling, how about trying some of the following ideas for your old carpet?

  • If it is still in decent condition, see if anyone on the Freecycle network can make use of it
  • Take it to your local animal shelter for use in the cat and dog pens
  • Make a rug
  • Wrap it around a block of wood and let your cat use it as a scratching post
  • Put it on the greenhouse floor to keep it warm in the winter
  • Use it as underlay for a pond liner

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Collecting and recycling your electrical waste

May 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

A brand new company has been launched this week specialising in the safe recycling of electrical waste in concordance with the WEEE directive, which came into effect on July 1st 2007. It was introduced in an attempt to reduce the amount of electrical waste heading to landfill and has significant implications for producers of electrical items and any non-household users of electrical items. The company, called Electro Collect, has invested in a state of the art website which not only allows you to create an instant quote for your waste, but also gives some very comprehensive information on the whole issue of the “WEEE Directive”.

The approach of the company is widely considered to be a step into the future for an industry which has been notoriously slow in its uptake of the Internet. Unlike the majority of its competitors, Electro Collect offers North West electrical waste recycling to the masses through an automated and easy-to-use website which eliminates ambiguity and speeds up the quoting process tremendously.

This approach, with the website acting as the main selling tool, gives the company the advantage of being able to harness digital media in a unique and pioneering way, for the market. Especially with the lack of publicity for the piece of legislation driving the venture, the strategy of hosting educational content on the website looks to be a defining factor in the market.

Needless to say, the website looks very appealing and the quote system gives a good tool to allow you to “gauge” the cost of obliging to this new law.

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Britain’s beaches blighted by more plastic litter than ever before

May 7, 2008 at 11:55 am

The latest Beachwatch report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) shows that plastic litter on British beaches has increased by a worrying 126% since 1994. Bags, bottles and other plastic items now account for over 58% of all litter found on UK beaches. Nearly 4,000 volunteers swept 168.5 km of UK coastline to collect data for the report, picking up a staggering 346,000 items of litter as they went.

Plastic litter is not just an eyesore for us: it represents a real danger to wildlife. Over 170 species of marine wildlife, including whales, seabirds and turtles, mistake marine litter for food. This can lead to poisoning and fatal stomach blockages. Animals can also be injured, strangled or drowned if they get caught up in old fishing nets or plastic packaging such as can holders. The RSPB has urged the government to do more to protect marine wildlife by creating a robust network of protected coastal areas.

The MCS says everyone can help reduce the tide of plastic litter by taking simple steps such as taking re-usable bags to the supermarket, re-filling plastic bottles with tap water and disposing of litter responsibly.

While almost all plastic can technically be recycled, the process is complicated by the range of different types of plastic, limited infrastructure and market demand. Around 86% of local authorities in the UK now provide collection facilities for plastic bottles and retailers have recently introduced degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic products.

Several coastal towns are making an effort to ‘Go plastic bag free’ as part of a national movement to reduce plastic waste. Modbury in South Devon claims to be ‘Great Britain’s first plastic bag free town’ after traders and shopkeepers stopped issuing plastic bags in May 2007. Campaigners are hoping that Brighton will soon follow in Modbury’s footsteps and similar efforts in Helston, Cornwall are being supported by Friends of the Earth.

The MCS runs an Adopt-a-Beach initiative to encourage individuals and communities to care for their coastal environment. By joining the scheme, you can adopt your favourite stretch of coast and take part in regular beach cleans and surveys to monitor litter.

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