• VSMM

Plastics a resource not a waste (and what some are doing.)

As I research, learn more and endeavour to become better at being aware of environmental issues, I find my mind is boggled by the amount of information, facts and alternatives that are being trialled, tested, shared, and promise to save our planet. There are as with any “new phase” a large amount of businesses visibly making changes. (Some I feel ticking the CSR box.) At times it’s difficult to work out what is fact over fiction, and I have found often once you have researched behind the data provided by journalists, the surface has just been scratched. However sensationalising matters provides the impact that a journalist or Eco warrior savours, and gets us all Twitter tagging! In a previous role, I was called by a very agitated Eco warrior, a plastic worshipping fundamentalist. For those of you that have worked with me and know me, the only thing I’m really fundamental about is coffee! I see both sides, find the facts, gain a balanced view, and this I put into my work. This way of working, this ethos of fairness to all parties is important to me. This is why I work in plastics! There is so much misinformation, fables instead of facts, educators not sharing both sides (and in fact are happy to share the negatives with out the positives even being mentioned, ) it is something that causes me to grind my teeth, bite my tongue and at times bite back. How can you compare plastic to paper? How can you say plastic is better than ply wood? How can you say manufacturers are not to blame? How can you say that the seas would be a better cleaner environment, if we as individuals had taken responsibility? It’s simple really, I can, I base my statements on facts, discussions with others, experts in their fields, environmentalists, industry professionals, recognised organisations. I’m not basing my view on these matters because it’s my career choice, I’m basing it on what I have learnt, and feel like so many within our industry, the truth should be recognised. So why can’t I say that plastic is a resource? If managed well, if recycled and repurposed, if investment is made, flexi plastics and rigid plastics that would be exported, incinerated or go to landfill can be used to make quality recycled, granulate, pellet and product. I consistently battle with people over, black plastic can’t be recycled, plastic pellets on the floor can not be reused, flexi plastics just go to waste or are burnt, buried or bung in the ocean (stretching myself there for another b word.) All of the above statements are untrue, these are lies. How do I know this? Well I have talked to those that know, seen the processes, attended course, gained the qualifications, seen the end product and witnessed first hand how investment and innovation, is building a better future through repurposing product that others class as waste. As my Dad used to say “ one mans rubbish is another mans gold.” Of those businesses one stands out. I was introduced to Yes Recycling Ltd, in September of this year. Before meeting with Omer Kutluoglu, I Google searched, viewed “The broadsheets” and industry editorials, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The materials the business repurposes (bank notes, hard hats, rigid plastics, ) is impressive the innovation and collaboration spanning the last ten years places them as a recycling business ahead of many others. Investment, partnerships and continual research reflect the ethos and success of this business. I was particularly interested in Yes Recycling’s flexible plastic process. Flexi plastics are those items when you go to your recycling bin you question. Is it wrapping? Is it classed as foil? Does it have a metal lining? Is it cardboard? Should I throw it in the bin? Unfortunately due to no regulated recycling system, every council diversifying in different directions, each area having different boxes, bags, bins or caddies, and no real conciseness for sorting recycling (and in addition to the recycling symbols being totally confusing,) recycling streams when they arrive at MRF’s are often muddled, mixed and require further time and investment to sort what was seen by the consumer as sorted. This results in large quantities of material not being recycled at the local authorities MRF, additional expense and waste going to landfill. That’s why I feel Yes Recycling Ltd are an interesting business, the flexi plastics Yes Recycling repurpose and utilised in their unique in-house system, creating a quality multi use material that can be used in extrusion moulding. The unique recycling process itself consists of many individual areas before the flexi plastic becomes a fit for purpose pellet or flake. This process is an example of investing time to create a solution to a problem, enabling profitability for their business, whilst trading ethically and supporting sustainability. So indeed I can quite honestly say that plastic is a resource, if from the start were managed well by individuals (or businesses such as Yes Recycling) we would not have the environmental state of play we find ourselves currently in . I’m thankful that businesses like Yes Recycling exist, and that they have the drive to innovate, invest and create a sustainable business model. By investing time money and effort a circular economic foundation has been established, and can be passed onto other businesses by becoming partners in projects and future endeavours. Plastic is a resource, there is no doubt in my mind, education is key, as is investment and innovation. Solutions can be found for a sustainable future. It just takes effort (if everyone had made an effort would the environment be at the crisis point it is now considered to be? That’s surely worth a moments thought.)