Recycling drives me round the bend. I feel SO much better getting that off my chest! It’s not the principle of the thing – I fully support the idea of recycling as much as we can and sending as little as possible to landfill. I don’t want the seas and our marine life full of microparticles of plastic, and who can look at the images of turtles being strangled by beer can holders and not want to do more?
But here’s the thing. Why does it have to be so damned difficult? Some things are relatively easy – cardboard, tins and bottles for example. But plastic? Plastic is a minefield, and I live in fear of getting it wrong, and my whole bag of recycling ending up in landfill because I put a couple of items made of the “wrong” plastic in it.
I’m guaranteed apoplexy when I read the words “Check locally” on the recycling label of a piece of plastic packaging. How the hell am I supposed to do that? Ring the council? Phone a friend? Here’s another one – we all know that the film lid on (say) a packet of Mince is not recyclable, but the rest of the packet is. So why is it practically impossible to separate the two? I have no idea what glue supermarkets use, but it’s serious stuff and that film lid isn’t going anywhere. In the end I remove as much as I can, and hope that it’ll do.
There’s no consistency either. Depending on who your council is you may have one wheelie bin for all your recycling, or several in different colours for different items. Where I live it all goes in a clear plastic (hopefully recyclable) bag. Different councils have different lists of objects that they can recycle and the whole thing is a minefield. Can I recycle the milk bottle lid? No idea. Apparently black plastic trays (from meat etc) can’t be recycled because the sorting machine can’t recognise them. I mean, really?
Surely it doesn’t have to be this hard. A little bit of consistency and labelling is all I’m asking for. What about a colour coded dot, with the name of the colour inside it for those who can’t see colour well. Hell, we could even put some braille on there. Here’s the kind of thing I have in mind:
I’ve chosen three colours to illustrate the concept, but you could have more – it doesn’t matter. Every single item of packaging has a dot on it with the colour code. Then you either have bins in matching colours, like the illustration at the top of this blog, or corresponding dots on your wheelie bin(s) to indicate which bin things go in, or even just a card that you can keep on your fridge to tell you. This isn’t rocket science but wouldn’t it make everyone’s life a whole lot easier?