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Recycle Week, is a recycling initiative organised by WRAP, This year’s theme is “Let’s get real about Recycling”
The aim of the week is to encourage businesses to recycle more, by helping understand the benefits of sustainable recycling and how this could save money. There are many myths surrounding recycling, so we’ve put together some facts to debunk a few of these, which we hope you find helpful.
The truth is the green dot symbol (while not always green) does not mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled. It simply is a symbol used on packaging to signify that the company has financially contributed towards the recovery and recycling of the packaging in Europe.
Another logo on the back of many products is in the shape of a triangle, called the Mobius Loop. It only indicates that the packaging is capable of being recycled, not that it has been recycled or will be accepted in all recycling collections. Sometimes this symbol is used with a percentage figure in the middle to show that the packaging contains that much-recycled material.
Yet again, another triangle logo with arrows. This one is differs from the Mobius Loop and indicates the type of plastic resin used to make the packaging. In the UK, codes 1 and 2 are usually widely recyclable, resin code 3 is not typically collected from households. Resin code 4 is typically plastic bags that can be taken to supermarkets for reuse and recycling, and some plastic bottles and containers. Codes 5, 6 and 7 are harder to recycle.
So, bear in mind, when buying a product in plastic packaging look for codes 1 and 2 that are widely recyclable. For more information on any of these codes, click here.
Products that are labelled with these ‘eco-friendly’ terms do not explain that for these to be reprocessed, they require specialist industrial processors to break them down. In the UK, there are several industrial composting facilities, like our sister company Envar, that are capable of processing this material.
Consumers mistakenly think that this material can be added to their food waste or garden compost to decompose, the reality is, this process will not happen any quicker than normal plastic waste.
Industrial composters need to reach temperatures of around 60°C and they must allow enough moisture to support the micro-organisms which break down biodegradable products.
If these materials mistakenly end up in with food waste, it can actually contaminate the whole process as these aren’t dealt with in the same way.
While there are some examples of wrapped fruit and vegetables that are unnecessary, sometimes it can be beneficial. Research shows that a shrink-wrapped cucumber lasts over three times longer than an unwrapped one. It also only loses 1.5% of its weight through evaporation after 14 days, compared with 3.5% in just three days for an exposed cucumber.
A longer life means fewer deliveries, and crucially, less waste.