In partnership with TerraCycle, a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials, Sussex Green Living is now working with over twelve parishes and schools to divert billions of waste resources from landfills.
Why is Recycling Single-Use Plastic Important?
Plastics are extremely durable and cheap to manufacture, making them almost impossible to overlook for manufacturers when it comes to product design and packaging. But their durability comes at the cost of slow degradation rates in the wild; upwards of 300 to 1000 years.
With about 380 tonnes of it being produced every year, by the time the plastic we have disposed of today begins to degrade the quantity in landfills, oceans and everywhere else will have become totally unmanageable. That is, unless, we can turn the tides.
Bisphenol A has been observed to disrupt physiological levels of sex hormones, negatively affect thyroid hormone gene expression in humans, and cause other detrimental effects. In marine life, issues with plastic entanglement and ingestion have been observed at a broad scale.
The Differences in Plastic Recycling Types
It would be nice to think we could simply scoop up piles of discarded plastic by the bucket and recycle it into brand new material. But unfortunately it’s not that simple.
The recyclability of plastic depends not only on the specific type being used but also its format, packaging and whatever else winds up in the bin along with it.
Factors like these have an enormous impact on whether or not something can be effectively reused. Debris like rocks, dirt, and food are difficult to sort at recycling facilities. Many single-use plastics like pouches or packaging are challenging to recycle even if perfectly clean.
Particularly robust plastics like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) can be reused relatively easily for non-sterile products and commercial construction projects. Recycled HDPE is often used for anything from plastic lumber all the way to washroom partitions.
Since single-use plastics are so notoriously difficult to recycle, creative approaches need to be developed to keep them where they should be and out of our backyards and oceans.
Terracycle runs a primarily volunteer-based platform that operates in 20 countries to tackle the issue of eliminating waste. So far, they have succeeded in diverting millions of pounds of resources from landfill waste to recycled or upcycled products.
Terracycle has a history of finding creative uses for post-consumer waste products, including using its “Bottle Brigade” program to convert used plastic soda bottles for plant fertilizer containers, creating backpacks from discarded juice pouches, and more.
In 2012 the company partnered with Sussex Green Living and last year saw over 12 parishes and schools in Horsham District work with Sussex Green Living to make single-use plastic recycling easier for everyone. You can see a list of the parish locations here. If your village or town is not on the list, learn how you can work with us here.
How Can You Participate?
Spreading Awareness of Our Single-Use Recycling Schemes
One of the simplest ways you can help increase recycling efforts in your area is to let people know about what we are offering. There are several different individual programs available that you can spread awareness of. Each one has an associated poster that you can print out yourself:
Volunteers are needed to coordinate, monitor, sort and dispatch waste resources. Start listing people you think may be interested and reaching out to them. Contact us HERE if you would like to volunteer to help an existing parish/team or you would like to launch a new team in your parish to help us.
Sending materials to TerraCycle via your Sussex Green Living account by taking it to your nearest USP location.
Let us know that you are ready to start collecting
We’ll connect you with one of our volunteers who can assist you or one of your collaborators in determining the details of what can be collected.
Go See the Team in Action
Every Wednesday we have a team of volunteers (The Sussex Green Living Wombles) at our main location in Horsham who sort and package waste resources. We are just forming a Friday afternoon team too.
Help Get Other Schools, Nurseries and Parishes Involved
Locations like these are great places to keep bins and spread awareness of the programs.
Spread Awareness of Standard Recycling Practices
Don’t neglect recycling at home and helping those around you understand how to properly do so. Here’s a link to a simple cheat sheet that separates the “Yes, please” items from the “No thanks” ones. Fortunately, thanks to our single-use recycling programs more of the “No thanks” items for your home recycling bins (like crisp packets, pet food pouches and the like) are finding better homes at our drop-off locations.
Another Way You Can Help
We are currently fundraising to expand our single-use plastic recycling operation in Horsham. Learn more here.
Feeling inspired to get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers, so get in touch or come and meet us and see how you can get involved! Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up to receive our latest news (it only takes two seconds to add your email address – simply click on black ‘Follow‘ tab on bottom right of this screen!). Feel free to also send us an email using our contact form, or come and say hello at our events like the Horsham Climate Cafe or the Horsham Repair Cafe!
“Inspiring sustainable living in Sussex”