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17th May, 2022

Eco Action column - 'Let's talk plastics' - by Bromsgrove Climate Action

Bromsgrove Editorial 3rd Jul, 2021

THE invention of plastic has dramatically changed our life. Since the mid 1950s there has been an explosion of products made.

It is the property of durability that has made it indispensable in many different fields – revolutionising the medical profession, car and aircraft industry and making space travel possible.

But the throw away culture of the past couple of decades is causing serious problems. Each year over 400million tonnes of plastic is produced and Britain uses more plastic per person than any other country except the US.

Over half is single-use plastic that has a lifetime of few hours or minutes before being binned.

The way we dispose of plastics is having a huge impact on the global environment and biodiversity.

Most common plastics dissolve very slowly over hundreds of years.

The discarded plastic material often litters beaches, rivers and beauty spots here and across the world, even reaching polar regions! It is a hazard to wildlife.

Both water sources and land are being polluted by micro plastics – tiny fragments under 5mm which when consumed by animals result in eventual death by starvation as their bodies fill up with small indigestible particles.

These micro- or nano- particles have become part of the food chain, ingested by others including humans with unknown effects.

Thousands of tonnes of our household plastic packaging put out for recycling, as well as other plastic waste ends up in UK incinerators.

When plastic is burnt it releases dangerous chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change and causing respiratory diseases, stress to our immune system and possibly a contributing factor in some cancers.

Lots of plastic cannot be recycled and gets sent to landfill, is incinerated or sent abroad to be dealt with.

Well over half of the household plastic packaging the Government claims is recycled is sent abroad, most of it going to countries with very low recycling rates and a serious problem with plastic waste being dumped or burned illegally.

The Government claims all exported plastic gets recycled, but truthfully we have no idea what really happens to it because no one bothers to check.

Retired ophthalmologist Dr Susan Porter said: “We can help reduce our plastic rubbish by buying unpackaged fruit and vegetables from a local farm shop, and refilling our containers from Nature’s Intention shop in Bromsgrove High Street.

The Government bears the main responsibility to limit plastic production from the start by introducing stricter laws as soon as possible. I say ban it!”

Tell Boris Johnson: Fix the UK’s plastic waste crisis – stop dumping plastic waste on other countries, cut the UK’s single use plastic by 50 per cent by 2025 and roll out a Bottle Return Scheme. Visit greenpeace.org.uk/news/plastic-recycling-export-incineration/ to sign the petition.

This article is brought to you by Bromsgrove Climate Action.

• New members are always welcome. Visit the ‘Bromsgrove Climate Action’ Facebook page or email bromsgroveclimateaction@gmail.com for more.

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