This year’s World Environment Day marks the 50th anniversary and is hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in partnership with the Netherlands, with a focus on solutions to plastic pollution. Every year, over 400 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide, one third of which is single use. Poor waste management can result in microplastics finding their way into all aspects of our lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe. At genee, we want to use this World Environment Day and the theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ to highlight the importance of business and individual waste management strategies to sustainably deal with our waste and avoid polluting the environment.
The Waste Hierarchy ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment. At the top of this list is prevention, which would be simply not producing the waste in the first place. Recycling our waste is now common place. According to WRAP’S Recycling Tracker Report 2021, 88% of UK households say they ‘regularly’ recycle, which is almost nine in ten households. Whilst recycling might be understood by the majority of people as best practice and good for the environment, it was found that 85% of UK households put one or more items in the recycling that is not accepted locally.
From this data, you can see that while the majority of people acknowledge the environmental benefits of recycling, there is still a way to go to help the general public understand how to recycle correctly. The items which are recycled incorrectly are called ‘contamination’, or another name for this would be ‘wishcycling’, which is putting something in your recycling in the hope that it is recyclable. Research shared last year from waste management company Biffa, has uncovered that nearly one fifth of England and Wales’ waste (both business and household) cannot be recycled due to contamination.
Your household or organisation’s waste management system can be a really effective tool when it comes to becoming more sustainable and environmentally conscious. Not only from physically making a difference, but using it as an effective tool to raise awareness of the actions you are taking across all areas of your environmental impact. However, it will only be effective if correctly utilised. As waste collections in the U.K. diversify, such as the instruction of weekly food waste collections across the country, it will be increasingly important to understand how to correctly segregate household or business waste to ensure that the amount of ‘contamination’ is kept to a minimum.
At genee we’re calling on individuals and businesses to establish how to correctly manage their waste, particularly avoiding placing plastics in garden waste or food waste bins. You can explore this further using Recycle Now’s Recycling Locator. To share the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this World Environment Day, “together, let us shape a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future for all”.