Find out Everything You Need to Know about Recycling and Recycling your Soft Plastic
Recycling is so important as waste has a hugely negative impact on the environment. In recent years we have now all become much more aware of the impacts of our waste to our world and many households are now recycling as much of their household waste as they can.
When our waste and rubbish go to landfill harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released and recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by this waste. Recycling also reduces the need for new raw materials for manufacturers so that our rainforests can be preserved. Recycling also saves energy from manufacturers not having to produce new packaging and products from raw natural resources. Recycling reduces the need for more landfills.
What Household Items can we Recycle?
- paper – newspapers, magazines, junk mail, envelopes
- phone directories and catalogues
- clean food tins
- clean drink cans and cartons
- clean glass bottles and jars
- clean plastic bottles (not the lids)
- clean plastic food trays and yoghurt pots
- clean tetra pack packaging
- plate scrapings
- vegetable peelings
- meat and bones
- cooked and uncooked food
- teabags and coffee grounds
- cut flowers
- garden waste including grass cuttings, prunings and leaves
- general refuse and pet waste
- light bulbs (not fluorescent bulbs)
- glassware such as Pyrex and mirrors
- nappies if you have an arrangement with your local council to pick up
As well as our weekly recycling collections you can also take clothes, household items, books, ornaments and so on to your local charity shops. Furniture can be advertised on your free local selling sites or taken to your local recycling centre, most of which now have a separate area for saleable items. Some local councils and charities will now arrange collection for furniture and it will either be used by households that need it or recycled.
The big thing for most of us now is the amount of soft plastic that is still used by supermarkets and internet companies to package their products and this is the type of plastic that you can’t put into your weekly recycling bins.
So what can you do with your Soft Plastic Waste?
What is an Eco Brick used for?
Lots of people and businesses across the world now are making Eco Bricks to create modular furniture, garden spaces, walls and even full-scale buildings. An Eco Brick contains a huge amount of soft non-biodegradable plastic waste that currently can’t be recycled and reduces the number of new products needed to make furniture, garden spaces, walls and building etc. A lot of third world countries are using eco bricks as the main components for new buildings and coming up with new and innovative ways to use them. They are being used as building materials to create insulative structures and colourful furniture.
What is an Eco Brick?
Eco-bricks are bottles stuffed full of clean soft plastic making them a heavy and solid building material.
How long with an Eco Brick last?
Eco bottles will last for anything from 300 – 500 years if they are made correctly and kept out of sunlight. They need to be packed so tightly with clean non-biodegradable plastic and this makes them versatile building blocks that can be used to build strong and stable structures.
Eco Bricks in the Community
One of our local schools have been making eco bricks for the children to learn more about recycling and the impact products and packaging is having on our environment and they plan to use their eco bricks to construct a play area in their playground.
How do I make an Eco Brick?
Start to collect all of your soft plastic including crisp packets, chocolate wrappings, toilet roll wrapping, vegetable bags, plastic bags and you will be really surprised as to how much you collect. If it is a food wrapping then it needs to be clean and dry before it goes into the bottle. Take a small plastic bottle, we would always advise that you start off with a small bottle first so a small water or fizzy drink bottle. The bottle needs to be washed out and be completely dry. Make a note of the ml of the bottle in case the outside wrapper comes off or it rubs off if it is printed on the bottle. The below gives you the weight your bottle needs to be at the end in grams.
|Plastic Bottle Size||Minimum Eco Brick Weight|
|500 ML||175 GRAMS|
|1,000 ML or 1 LITRE||350 GRAMS|
|1,500 ML or 1.5 LITRE||525 GRAMS|
|1,750 ML or 1.75 LITRE||613 GRAMS|
Next cut up your soft plastic into rectangle squares or strips of all sizes ranging it from 2x2cm up 15x2cm strips. Start to add the plastic into your bottle in small amounts and use a long instrument like the end of a wooden spook to keep pushing the soft plastic down. Try not to do it with the bottle stood on a work surface as when you push down with your instrument you can damage the plastic bottle you are using and this will make it redundant. When you get to about 1/8th full weigh your bottle to check that is 1/8 of your bottles end weight that you are aiming for. The bottom of your bottle needs to feel hard not squishy to make it useable. It takes a long time and every tiny space needs to be filled with plastic, so be prepared to do it over lots of sessions as it won’t be filled in one.
Your end product will feel solid and heavy, much like a brick. There are lots of websites now where you can register your brick and companies are now starting to collect in local areas (search ‘eco-bricks, your area, collection/drop off points’ in google), or you can make something out of them yourself.
Check out some amazing eco-brick ideas here.
If you don’t have the time to make an eco-brick then there are now lots of companies that have non-biodegradable plastic waste disposal drop off points which will use plastic instead of it going to landfill. When you start to collect your plastic you will be amazed just how much there is and how much room you will have left in your bin at the end of the week.
We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes – utilised for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year, dramatically impacting our sea life. Trash Travels estimates that plastic bags can take 20 years to decompose, plastic bottles up to 450 years, and fishing lines 600 years; but in fact, no one really knows how long plastics will remain in the ocean. With exposure to UV rays and the ocean environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller fragments. Chlorinated plastic releases harmful chemicals into the sea and soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources and the ecosystem of the world. This can cause serious harm to the species that drink the water and gets into our water and food sources. It really is that bad and we all need to start to reduce the amount of plastic that comes into our homes as well as recycling and reusing everything we possibly can.
If you are looking for reusable products for your home or business then take a look here for some ideas.