Over 50% of our plastic ends up in landfill, and there are pretty damning reasons why. Also, brace yourself, because most of us are the ones actually responsible for it.
Not all plastic is recyclable
Probably Malta’s foremost environmentalist Cami Appelgren explained why that headline should not put us off recycling completely. In a Facebook post yesterday, she broke the argument down into 4 points that individuals and companies should be following. The first is probably one that way too many of us are guilty of missing.
Most plastic products come with a little number on them, a resin code, which determines how easy that item is to recycle. In Malta, the only numbers easily recycled are 1 and 2. That means that broken chairs, diapers, plastic cups and other single-use plastics should not be included.
This has to be a wake-up call to large companies to start creating packaging that can be recycled. Any plastic that’s not numbered 1 or 2, try to avoid buying outright.
The next step is a relatively easy one: rinse dirty stuff before putting it in the recycling bag. If you don’t it will contaminate the other items, rendering most of them unrecyclable. Speaking of which, take out the recycling bag only once it’s full. Believe it or not, it’s not recyclable either.
Knowledge is power
Despite being a staunch critic of those in power when she needs to be, Ms Appelgren believes it should be up to people to educate themselves. “It’s easier to blame someone else and give up”, she said in her post. And she’s completely right. Apart from reducing overall waste however we can (point number 3), point number 4 will come as news to many.
That green and white arrow symbol? It does not automatically mean the item can be recycled. It’s simply showing that “the packaging is part of the scheme which importers pay to and obliged to retrieve the material.” That would make most wrappers non-recyclable. Yikes.
What are we to do?
Therefore, we need to take action as a population now, and not wait for the government to bail us out, as they’re doing right now. Currently, the government carries the cost burden for a variety of reasons. There are also various reasons for the recycling inefficiency. The loss of the Sant Antnin plant to a fire in 2017, a raft of policies yet to get the governmental green light and lack of funding all contribute.
We should take it upon ourselves to properly research sustainability measures, so we can truly be a part of the solution, rather than solely pose a problem for future generations to deal with.