Do we bin it or is there an alternative?
Anyone involved in, who observed closely or reported on the recycling revolution of the 1980s would have noted that society needed to jump large hurdles for the concept to become a reality.
For those of us who remember, there were all sorts of barriers, none more pressing than a fledgling industry struggling to generate demand for products made from various types of recycled material.
What was also immediately evident was that there was a need for everyday householders, who were jumping on board to support kerbside recycling – to such an extent they were willing to pay for the privilege – to separate their waste. This was because there were some items that could be readily separated and recycled and others that could not. Unfortunately the items that could not were destined for landfill – a problem to consider for the future.
Recycling is now thankfully a huge part of waste-management, providing business, trade and employment opportunities as well as helping us avoid living in a glorified rubbish tip.
But what about that problem waste material that needed some sort of solution in the future?
Again, thankfully, we’ve seen industry response and significant development involving an increasing range of products.
So why then, are we constantly hearing of the horrors of petro-chemical plastic contamination of our rivers and oceans and of a seemingly large number people confused about what they can or can’t recycle?
It is because as consumers we not only continue to allow, but foster, sometimes through a comfortable ignorance, a throwaway lifestyle regardless of the environmental cost.
Sure, we give ourselves a pat on the back for recycling an egg carton or plastic bottle. But at the same time we casually put in the bin the plastic wrapper from our individually contained slice of cheese, cling-wrap that kept our vegies or meat fresh, chocolate wrappers and so on.
Who can blame us? There alternative.
Or is there? We put governments in power to help us manage big-picture issues and suspect waste-management has reached a point where they have to step in to regulate what can be distributed as one-use throwaway products.
Some might argue this is unrealistic, financially and socially, considering our heavy day-to-day reliance on petro-chemical plastics?
But as the saying goes, where there’s is no a will, there’s a way. For example and we’ve said it many times before – technology to create starch-based compostable plastic has been around for years.
It is inexplicable considering how much starch we grow in this country that we have yet to seriously explore the potential of bioplastic.
Imagine feeling comfortable about putting a plastic bag on your worm patch or in your compost bin for use in the garden.
We’ve seen so much growth in how we manage our waste but there are many boxes we have still yet to tick.
It remains an issue that is going to stay with us until we find the answers