I do my recycling every week like a good girl. I put my glass and cans in one box for a weekly pick up. I put my paper and grey card in a bag for a weekly pick up, and finally I put my plastic BOTTLES in a bag for weekly pick up. I say BOTTLES because the lids are NOT allowed! “But they are plastic too” we all cry, “so why not”? well here is the reason.
Just recently you will have noticed that the green milk lids have lighted slightly? No? well have a good look and think about what colour they were before. The reason is that whilst the plastic used for milk cartons and cleaning product bottles are recyclable, there common factor is…. they are all UNCOLOURED! The uncoloured High density polyethylene (HDPE, or plastic to you and me) has replaced glass for bottles for a long time now because it is much stronger, lighter and more durable than glass, which drastically reduces the carbon footprint of transportation, and also results in next to no breakages. This is all good but there is more: it can be made into convoluted shapes, meaning we now have hollow handles better for grip, and a thin pouring lip, which means less spillage. The rectangular shape of these bottles enables them to be stored more space efficiently and dexterously, allowing more milk to be put on a wagon or in a fridge door. This makes it more convenient all round for the manufacturers, transportation companies, shops and us as the end user. You can cant ask better than that… can you?
Well actually yes! in 1995 Japan passed a law, phasing out coloured drinks bottles and lids, and now have recycling rates of 75%, compared to our target of a 30% recycled HDPE in milk bottles by 2015, I think that’s definitely worth asking for.
What HDPE isn’t very good at, is releasing the dye molecules responsible for the colour of the milk bottle top. Regardless of colour, semi-skimmed green, skimmed red or full-fat blue, the dyes are all carbon based, and so blend together extremely well with the HDPE. The majority of us in the UK drink semi-skimmed, and so green milk bottle tops are most prevalent.
There are over 63 million people in our country, if we push for the ban of colour we could in effect double our plastic bottle recycling. So when the elections come up take a look at who has the green issues near the top of the agenda.
E-volve Energy – Helping to save the world… one home at a time!