On Global Recycling Day we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on the impact of plastics on our natural world, why recycling is so important and the actions that we can all take to help the environment.Global Recycling Day 2018 from Global Recycling Day on Vimeo.
The first ever Global Recycling Day took place in 2018 with the aim of celebrating the importance of recycling in securing the future of our planet.
The key message is that by recycling, we can preserve our precious resources and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, which is not only an unsustainable use of natural resources but also produces gases which contribute to climate change.
Recycling is also an important part in preventing pollution in our natural environments.
We are all increasingly aware of the extent of plastics in the world’s oceans but perhaps not quite so aware of its presence in freshwater.
More research has been undertaken in recent years and we know that microplastics (plastics of less than 5mm in size) can be present at significant levels in freshwaters.
Microplastics are of particular concern because they can be ingested at many different levels throughout the food web much more easily than larger pieces of plastic.
Researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Exeter have sampled rivers and found that microplastics were present in at least half of all aquatic insects in the rivers surveyed.
The researchers thought that the microplastics came from a variety of sources, including wastewater from sewage works, surface water runoff containing road paint and bits of tyres, and litter.
More recently, the University of Bangor and Friends of the Earth found microplastic in several of Britain’s most well-known lochs and rivers. The sites they surveyed included two sites in Scotland (Loch Lomond and Falls of Dochart), both of which were found to contain microplastics.
In Scotland we have a target to recycle 70% of waste by 2025, and currently progress stands at 46%.
Encouragingly in 2018 the levels of household waste recycled exceeded the amount sent to landfill in Scotland for the first time, but more action is needed to reach our national recycling targets.
So what can be done to help tackle this problem?
As the organisation tasked with protecting and improving Scotland’s nature, here at SNH we are leading by example in taking action to reduce, re-use and recycle as much as possible, for example by having recycling bins in all our offices, reducing the use of paper and taking steps to eliminate the use of plastic bottles, cups, packaging and cutlery.
But all of us can take simple steps in our everyday lives to help reduce the amount of plastic that we use and protect our environment.
- Try avoiding using plastic for one day and see what changes you can make
- Use plastic-free teabags
- Refill your water bottle
- Switch to plastic free options when they are available. Buy loose fruits and vegetable
- Bring food and drinks in sustainable containers. Bring your own cup to meetings.
- Carry a reusable bag with you.
- Say no to plastic straws and cutlery.
- Avoid overly packaged items
Global Recycling Day encourages us all to think again about what we are throwing away, and begin to see not just waste, but opportunity.
Raising awareness can lead to crucial action –such as the recent EU policy aiming to ban 90% of microplastic pollutants.
Individuals have as much a role to play as large organisations, so do your bit this Global Recycling Day and celebrate what we’ve achieved so far!