Pesticides and herbicides not only kill pests and weeds, they are also kill others higher up the food chain such as ladybirds, frogs, and birds. In the recent review, the State of the World’s Birds it has been noted that across the globe more than half of bird species are in decline with farmland birds in Europe declining by 57% since 1980.
This month saw the launch of FlexCollect, a 3 year trial project in which flexible – soft/ scrunchable – plastic will be part of the kerbside recycling collection made by local authorities. The first council taking part will be Cheltenham Borough Council.
HDPE and LDPE are widely used for packaging – plastic bags and wrappers, margarine cartons and milk containers – and both can be recycled. As with PET bottles closed loop recycling is possible but more often these plastics are recycled into none food items such as pipes, plastic ‘wood’ for outdoor furniture, recycling bins and rubbish bags. Clearly it would be better for the environment if all recycling were closed loop recycling as this is the best way of eliminating the use of oil to make virgin plastic.
Again ask companies whether they use recycled plastics and of not, what not.
NB the recycling of plastics is made much easier of the plastic is washed/ cleaned before it is put in the recycling bin. Dirty plastic can contaminate a whole batch sent for recycling .
If only 44% of plastic packaging waste is recycled, what happens to the other 56%?
Some will litter the streets and pavements, before being blown into hedgerows and trees, into waterways and out to sea. There it will break down into smaller and smaller bits until it is small enough to count as micro plastic (less than 5mm in length). Micro plastics have been found in the ice at both north and south Poles. They have infiltrated the food chain. They have even crossed the placenta from the mother to the foetus.
Some of this litter will be eaten by animals and birds almost certainly causing premature death. Some will go via domestic dustbins, public waste bins and commercial waste bins, into either landfill where again it will break down over time into micro plastic particles, or it will be burnt in an incinerator further adding to air pollution.
This is Christian Aid week. The work Christian Aid supports includes projects to assist people affected by climate change and to make their communities more resilient. Their recent report Scorched Earth focuses on drought caused by global heating. Many large cities around the globe – from London to Cape Town, Phoenix to New Delhi – face running out of water. Whilst the problem is wide spread, the means for resolving it are not. “Cities in poorer countries are also far more vulnerable than those in richer countries as they have fewer resources to adapt to the water shortages. The lack of state funds and infrastructure makes it harder to import water and ensure it reaches those that need
The public are being urged to keep an eye out for any signs of disease in local trees, as the UK launches a hi-tech, £5.8m tree laboratory to fight the spread of pests and diseases. The UK is especially vulnerable to the growing spread of plant pathogens because of warmer, wetter winters, and because it is a hub for global trade. The public can report sightings via the Tree Alert site, and a specialist will come and look at the tree, or send samples for further testing. One pest that affects Richmond Park is the oak procession are moth.
“First identified in London in 2006, it probably arrived on imported live wood. It has since been found in some surrounding counties. The caterpillars will be emerging over the next three months. They are black with long white hairs and move in long nose-to-tail processions, which give them their name. The nests are usually the shape of a dome or teardrop and are around the size of a tennis ball. They strip bark off oak trees and cause them to lose their leaves. The caterpillars can cause rashes and breathing difficulties, and should not be touched.”
Most plastics can now be recycled especially as much plastic packaging is what is known as ‘soft plastic’. Soft plastics can be recycled at various supermarkets including the Coop and Amazon Fresh. To check what counts as soft plastic, the Coop has a good listing- https://www.coop.co.uk/environment/soft-plastics/packaging-list
An update from DEFRA reported that only 44% of the 2.5m tonnes of plastic packaging waste produced in 2021 was recovered for recycling. This compares with 73.6% for glass. (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-waste-data/uk-statistics-on-waste )Plastic can seem harder to recycle because it comes in so many different categories each with its own recycling protocol. Greenpeace’s plastic survey – The Big Plastic Count – which starts tomorrow will collect data that can be used to ease/ resolve this problem. https://thebigplasticcount.com/