Confused from Gloucestershire

Filed in Blog by on May 7, 2012 12 Comments
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shop14I studied A levels at school.

I might not have passed all of them; preferring instead to flirt with the boys in the common room; but I did study them so I have a reasonable level of education.

I’m pretty quick to pick things up too – always have been; it’s one of my gifts.

I’m great at research; it’s something that fills me with enthusiasm.

But even *I’m* confused by this one!

The other day we were out and about and had taken much longer than planned (thus is the way with a tween when you’re shopping for clothes) so I had to resort to buying bottled water.

I know, I know…

Now I’m all for helpful recycling information because if you can inform consumers then they can make an empowered choice, right?

Fortunately the on-pack recycling label is designed to do exactly that.

It’s a voluntary scheme which aims to provide clear advice to customers on how they can recycle in their local area within a widely varying provision of recycling facilities across the UK. Wahee!

The only trouble is, on one bottle I picked up I was given THIS information:

Confused? You will be!

Confused? You will be!

Oh dear, I’m getting deja vu.

So let me get this right – the bottle is PLASTIC and it’s widely recycled.

The cap is PLASTIC and I have to check my local recycling.

The label is PLASTIC and not currently recycled.

I understand that the types of plastic are different, so let’s really empower consumers by telling them WHAT the plastic is and then we can choose which products get our vote.
I understand that recycling facilities vary widely across the country, so let’s get over ourselves and consolidate them.
I understand that some types of plastic cannot be recycled, so let’s manufacturing them or let’s develop ways to reuse them!

We live in a technological age; one which takes my breath away with the huge amount of things we can do. We can put people to the moon, send an email on our mobile phones and get into steel crates and fly through the air to the other side of the world, yet we can’t sort out our recycling and waste issues…

A bit like me with my A levels, I think this could be improved, don’t you?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. CarSue says:

    I always feel similarly frustrated by plastic carrier bags. I don’t use them, but know that lots of people do, and they frequently show up (unwelcomed) in the bins at our recycling center. If we tell folks that they can’t bring the bags to us, they point to the side where it says “please recycle this bag.” There’s no instruction on most of them to return them to the store, even though that’s necessary for them to be properly recycled in most municipalities. Arrrggghh!

  2. Peter says:

    Ah, but, someone, somewhere can tick a box that makes it look like a difference is being made.
    And many conferences are getting held between governments, LGAs, quangos & high PR-budget brand CSR Directors to pat each other on the back at just how well those targets are being met.
    Now, imagine if folk started designing packaging such that the various plastic components were separated, for reuse where possible? And all this pretend recycling was reconfigured via consumer cooperation based on end-benefit.
    Imagine that.
    http://www.retie.co.uk

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @CarSue: Oh yes, I can see how that is really frustrating. There are so many assumptions made by the manufacturers and they seem to think that a little, ambiguous information is good enough.

    @Peter: the idea of packaging that can be separated is brilliant isn’t it and really not rocket science at all. Laminated packaging is one of my bugbears too – all those lovely materials bound together…

  4. Julie Day says:

    I know this one as I have had this before. Is confusing. You have to take the outer plastic off, which is silly. I too get fed up with trying to work out what type of plastic things are. I feel that all manufacturers of plastic should put a number or the symbol on the product to let us know.

  5. it’s definitely not just you! At least they tell you. Our clamshell containers for berries and such have recycling symbols on them and the county takes that kind of plastic…but apparently they don’t take clamshell containers. So confusing! I wish recycling was done on a national basis. Is it in the UK?

  6. Jane says:

    …and here is another: What is a plastic “bottle”? That is – after all – the only plastic that some Councils will recycle.

    What are they playing at? Have you seen the shapes that washing liquid is coming in now? First there were all those ready measured little pillows of liquid in the unrecyclable in many places PP (polypropylene) box and now we can measure the concentrated stuff ourselves we find it comes in strange shaped containers made out of some sort of unidentified plastic.

    It is high time that all users of packaging had to identify it for recycling purposes. We seem to be going backwards. It just looks like deliberate obfuscation..

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Oh see, I didn’t know you had to take that outer plastic off – you learn something new every day 😉

    @joanna @ I Won’t Be a Hoarder Too: Recycling isn’t done on a national basis; it’s not even the same within the same county! So frustrating about the clamshell packaging for you…

    @Jane: Ack! We have that in Gloucestershire about the bottles; it drives me crazy! When is a bottle not a bottle…

  8. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: @Mrs Green:

    And there was the wonderful Panorama programme where they showed that people didn’t realise that they could recycle the “bottles” or “jugs” that you buy milk in. Yet the recycling companies are crying out for this plastic and the milk ones are part of a closed loop system.

    Surely that kind of general info is something that Government should be doing.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Oh yes! I remember being shocked at that programme. Yesterday Mr G picked up the milk in bags from Sainsburys; apparently the plastic bag can be recycled with carrier bags. I just wasn’t sure though; for starters the milk wasn’t organic and that’s what we normally buy and even with rinsing I wouldn’t fancy storing old plastic bags that had had milk in them this time of year …

  10. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: @Mrs Green:

    It depends on what you can recycle in your area!

    Tendring has a brand new recycling contract and suddenly it is no plastic bags – the only plastic is bottles (a reduction from all plastics)! People who had been putting their recycling out for years in bags suddenly had it all rejected (and the Council didn’t have enough green boxes to issue in place of those that had been ‘lost’ in the intervening years since recycling started). I can’t understand why more info isn’t sent out with Council Tax – especially when people move house. Their attitude is terribly laissez-faire.

    I haven’t even seen any banks for plastic bags at the supermarkets there. Some residents didn’t know they were getting different boxes and different collections until they were noisily delivered late in the evening! So much potential opportunity for giving information to residents completely lost.

  11. Jane says:

    Ha ha: When is a bottle a bottle!? Just look at this stylised video from Recycle Now.
    http://www.recyclenow.com/how_is_it_recycled/plastic_bottles.html
    What message do you get from this? … and what about those plastic milk bottles… where did they feature?

  12. Jane says:

    http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/councils/recycle-week-2012-puts-spotlight-on-plastic-bottles

    Another stylised bottle here in this year’s campaign.

    The general photo does show a milk one on the top.

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