By EssentialsMAG environment contributor Rob Renouf
Plastic is a lightweight, versatile material that can be put to many good uses, but plastic pollution has become a huge issue. From an environmental perspective, the primary problems with plastic are the sheer amounts being produced and the inappropriate ways in which we’re using it.
Almost all plastic has been produced since 1950, but the rate of production has increased massively, with over half produced since 2004.
Only 9% of the plastic ever made has been recycled.
Over 40% of plastic produced is packaging.
We generate about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year – almost the weight of the planet’s entire human population!
Single-use plastics such as packaging are a particular concern, as they have an extremely short useful life, yet can remain in the environment for hundreds of years. Recycling has an important role to play, and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from doing it. However, putting our plastic in the recycling bin doesn’t guarantee that it will be recycled. Reducing the amount of plastic we buy and throw away is the most surefire way of minimising plastic pollution.
If like me you’re concerned about plastic packaging, one of the easiest things you can do is tell the shops. You can do this in person or online, and some supermarkets even offer incentives for providing online feedback.
Plastic Free Wrexham is a group set up to try and tackle the issue of plastic pollution locally. They’re currently seeking the support of local people and businesses in working towards plastic free accreditation for Wrexham. A similar campaign by Plastic Free Llangollen resulted in their town being awarded Plastic Free Community status by Surfers Against Sewage in 2018.
Plastic Free Wrexham are hoping to hold a mass unwrap at a local supermarket in the coming months. These events are done with the agreement of the store and anyone can take part. Customers who wish to participate simply remove any plastic packaging they consider unnecessary from their shopping as they leave the shop. The packaging is collected up by volunteers and returned to the store at the end of the day to be recycled where possible. Mass unwraps are a way of highlighting the issue of excess packaging and showing the stores that many customers don’t actually want it.
Further information about Plastic Free Wrexham and how to get involved can be found on their Facebook page: @PlasticFreeWrecsam.
Or Twitter @FreeWrecsam
EssentialsMAG environment contributor is Rob Renouf, firstname.lastname@example.org