TV shows and the media are becoming ever more focused on the negative impact of single use plastics and the grave impact they have on the environment and in-particular, the world’s oceans and the creatures who live within them. By making small changes in our day to day lives, we can help contribute to a more positive future.
Customers are becoming more aware of the importance of making responsible and sustainable choices when it comes to product packaging, with YPO recently seeing an increase in queries regarding PET plastic bottles and whether there are more environmentally friendly alternatives available.
Recycling rates on the up
Referring to plastic bottles as single use implies that they cannot be recycled. However, PET plastic bottles are fully recyclable and can actually be recycled over and over again. Sources tell us that around 60% of PET plastic bottles are now recycled, compared to around 3% in 2001.
So, the message regarding responsible disposal of plastics seems to be working and disposing of plastics in a responsible way by separating them from general waste is becoming very much the norm when doing so in our own homes.
More to do
Other customer research indicates that there’s more to do, particularly when it comes to disposing of plastic bottles when out and about. Reports attribute this to a lack of recycling bins, particularly in public places. It seems a lot of the general public lacks enthusiasm to recycle compared to when there’s a recycling bin nearby. Most of us at some point will have been out in town and have thrown a plastic bottle in a general waste bin because there was no recycling point in the immediate vicinity. Therefore, public places need to invest in recycling stations to help encourage the public to make responsible choices and increase recycling rates in these spaces.
It’s also true that recycling facilities then need to increase their capacity to recycle the bottles that we take the time to send for recycling; the UK currently has lower capacity to recycle PET plastic bottles than many of our European neighbours. Our long-standing supplier Harrogate Water tells us since May 2018, all their plastic water bottles have been made from more than 50% UK post-consumer recycled plastic content. Currently this is the maximum that can be achieved given the limited availability of recycled material.
It will be interesting to see in the future whether there’s an increase in the number of recycling bins in our towns, cities, parks and other public areas. It will also be interesting to see what incentives are introduced, both to us as the general public and to our councils to encourage us to recycle more, and for our councils to invest more in recycling facilities to increase the availability of recycled material. This in turn will help the drinks industry to utilise more recycled plastics, ensuring plastic bottles are recycled as many times as possible.
Twist it, Cap it, Recycle it
Meanwhile, until we reach a point where a recycling bin is available in every public place alongside a general waste bin, Harrogate Water have launched a Twist it Cap it Recycle it campaign. By twisting an empty bottle and resealing it makes it more compact, meaning it’s easier to pop in your bag and take home where you can dispose of it in your own recycling bin. The twisted bottle reduces its size which also reduces its carbon footprint when being transported to a recycling facility.
Take a look at the campaign in the video below:
YPO is championing sustainability and we are working closely with our suppliers to ensure packaging is recycled, recyclable or re-usable wherever possible. Our individual milkshake drinks for example are now supplied with paper straws, and we are speaking to all drinks suppliers to ensure our product packaging reflects our customer’s requirements to be more environmentally friendly.
Recycling stations have been introduced in all public areas at YPO to encourage our staff and visitors to recycle their waste. Our non-food product ranges are also changing. YPO’s best-selling exercise book range now comes in fully recyclable plastic packaging and in-line with forthcoming legislation, our catering disposable ranges are becoming both more innovative and sustainable. Many products deemed single use are in the process of being discontinued from our range and replaced with ranges that can be reused, recycled or composted.
Read more on our commitment to sustainability here.
Or contact Melissa our Sustainable Procurement Manager for advice or for more information on sustainability here, or speak to our food and catering teams for how we’re working with our suppliers to develop our ranges to become more environmentally friendly.