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There's no time to waste

25 April 2018

Sustainable practices are increasingly becoming our daily habits. This is particularly true when it comes to cutting down plastic waste – whether it's separating plastics from our general domestic waste for recycling or taking reusable shopping bags to the supermarket.  

Awareness has grown in recent years of the issues surrounding plastic waste with many initiatives being launched to help reduce it. 

A scheme is being proposed to encourage recycling and cut plastic waste, which would see customers in England pay more for drinks in the shops.

It was also recently announced that shops and businesses around London including Costa Coffee, Tate Modern, BFI Imax and Leon have joined a Thames Water scheme that offers people free tap water ‘refills’ as part of the Mayor of London’s plans to reduce single-use plastic bottles in the capital.

In Norway, 95% of all plastic bottles are now recycled, compared with England at the moment where the rate is 57%. About half of all the plastic bottles used in a year in England are water bottles.

Of course, more action must be taken to reduce the damage being done before it becomes irreversible. 

Plastic has toxic pollutants that damage the environment and cause land, water and air pollution. It can take hundreds or even thousands of years for plastic to break down, so the damage to the environment is long-lasting.

With more than eight million tonnes going into the oceans every year, it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish by 2050 and 99 per cent of all seabirds on the planet will have consumed some.

The cleaning and hygiene industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling this serious issue and, in doing so, to demonstrate its value to the world. 

There are already forward-thinking companies recycling and repurposing plastics from bin liners, chemical packaging and polybags, as well as finding ways to reduce the use of plastic altogether. There is even cleaning-product packaging created from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic which, by 'closing the loop' in the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, is a significant step towards becoming a circular economy. 

But is there consumer demand for sustainable products and an acceptance of their importance? Among the readers of Cleaning Matters, it would appear so. According to our recent survey into the Future of Cleaning, 89 per cent of cleaning professionals surveyed at the end of 2017 thought environmental concerns would either be a significant or major driver within the cleaning industry in the years to come.

This prediction is already coming true: The Government published details in January of its 25-year Environmental Plan, with ministers vowing to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, improve the natural environment and throw much more emphasis on innovation in plastics to keep it out of landfill and our oceans. 

The time is ripe for change so what are you waiting for? With a dumper truck's worth of plastic thrown into the ocean per minute, there really is no time like the present.