Interest in doorstep delivery surge as fears of the plastic peril deepen.
Hanover Dairies continue to see high demand in glass milk-bottle doorstep sales as consumers are set to change their buying habits.
In the 1960s, high-density polyethylene plastic was introduced with some fanfare. Just one of the many plastics to be introduced over that decade. We were lead to believe that we were on the threshold of a new era in human progress and cited by some, as important as the combustion engine and the wheel. Plastics became popular with both manufacturers and customers due to their lightweight nature, resistance to breakage and were, of course, cheap. The new plastics quickly replaced (the humble milk bottle was one of them) a non-toxic, reusable and recyclable natural material we all know as glass. This new era became known as the plastics revolution.
History teaches us that revolutions, no matter how enlightening, can have a dark side. What this revolution did not foresee was the dire effect it would have on our health and environment. In less than 50 years, this man-made toxic and non biodegradable substance, has lead to the systematic choking of the world’s oceans and waterways including the killing of countless marine animals. The effects of this pollution can be clearly seen closer to home, as the results of the Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach cleanup in 2015 showed that the amount of rubbish dumped on UK beaches rose by a third compared with the previous year. The number of plastic drinks bottles found were up 43 per cent on 2014 levels. Plastics on our beaches, whether washed up or the result of lazy weekends, is only the tip of the iceberg. The UK alone produces 31 million tonnes of waste per year. Lets put that into context, its equivalent to the weight of three and a half million double-decker buses, a queue of which would go around the world two and a half times. But only 17 per cent of this was collected for recycling (source: defra.gov.uk). This figure is low compared to some of our neighbouring EU countries, some recycling over 50 per cent of their waste. Most of what we don’t recycle goes into landfill in the UK, a small amount is incinerated and the rest we ship to countries like India and China, or we used to, the Chinese no longer want our waste.
But it gets worse, according to the figures compiled by the Co-op from the Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection survey. Of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste collected from UK consumers in 2015, only a third, 500,000 tonnes was actually recycled, the rest was simply dumped. But we are not alone in blame, many of the world’s countries contribute to an issue that is as important as global warming and just as threatening to our very existence.
A recent presentation by Santa Barbara’s National Centre for Ecological Analysis made for sober reading. They estimate 4.8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste gets dumped into the world’s oceans each year, and this number is just a conservative estimate. The researchers believe the real amount could be as high as 12.7 million metric tonnes. When you take into account that plastic bags can take 200 years to decompose, plastic bottles up to 450 years, and fishing line, 600 years (source: Trash Travels), the true enormity of the problem comes chillingly into focus.
It would seem that recycling alone, as alarming as it sounds, will not be enough. We have to change habits. A good example of this was the dramatic drop in plastic bag usage in 2016 (source: The Guardian, 30 Jul 2016). The number of single-use bags handed out dropped to 500 million in the first six months since the 5p charge was introduced. Compared with a whopping 7 billion the previous year, that’s an 85 percent drop in plastic bags in our environment.
The public outcry over this issue has motivated the Prime Minister to action, a plan to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Let’s hope that date is not too late. The wording ‘eradicate avoidable plastic waste’ is interesting, as most food and drink plastic packaging is completely avoidable. This will have huge repercussions on the big supermarkets, that of late, have done little to address any of these pressing issues.
In the closing second decade of the new millennium, do we really have the time to wait for governments, big retailers and the food industry to make small, incremental and slow changes? When we can simply stop buying single use plastic containers, go back to glass and avoid over packaged food products by buying loose fruit and vegetables the way we used to from grocers or markets and meat from the butchers without the plastic tray destined for the landfill as soon as we get home. Big retailers and the food industry faced with falling revenues will be forced to act, attached as they are to the bottom line. However they will argue that this change will impact on our pocket, but this argument is ,misleading. An example of this is supermarkets sell milk cheaper in plastic than your traditional milkman, but this saving comes at a huge cost to the environment. If a pint of milk delivered in a glass bottle to your doorstep costs X with less harm to the environment, then milk costs X.
Hanover Dairies are passionately committed to making a difference in the environmental issue that now faces our planet. Most of the work is still ahead of us, but we can start with simple changes to the way we shop and in turn apply pressure on the big retailers and food industry forcing change in the
unnecessary use of plastic packaging, that they keep on supplying us. While you’re at it, why not give us a call on 0191 4149300 and we will deliver your milk in a reusable and recyclable glass bottle. The plastics revolution may be over but the plastics peril is now a frightening reality.
Let’s make sure our planet does not become a plastics graveyard.