Plastics - the problem with...

Update: From 1 October 2023 businesses must no longer supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastics items in England.  The banned items include all single-use plastic cutlery, plates, bowls, trays, containers, balloon sticks and polystyrene food and drink containers. Some exception applies. Find out more by visiting Single-use plastics ban: plates, bowls, trays, containers, cutlery and balloon sticks - GOV.UK (

The use of plastic items, especially single-use items (which are items only used once), is accelerating climate change and polluting our world. But there are many ways you can reduce your single-use plastic and make a difference.


What is the problem with plastic?

Turtle & Plastic bag Plastic pollution is one of the most visible examples of ways that we are causing damage to our planet. In the past 100 years humans have produced (and used) a lot of plastic. From our local beaches to the remote Arctic, plastic waste is choking our oceans and killing wildlife. Our modern obsession with throw-away plastic in the name of convenience comes at a high price. Marine birds and wildlife become entangled or choke on our plastic waste, or mistake it for food. It eventually breaks down into tiny toxic particles, which are eaten by plankton and fish, entering our food chain.

The production and distribution of plastic also has a huge carbon footprint, which is made worse because so many plastic products are designed to be disposable, and are destined for the landfill after just one use. No one knows exactly how long it will take to disappear, but it's at least hundreds of years. 

There are many quick and easy ways you can reduce your impact on the planet – start TODAY.


The Facts

Plastics in the marine environment
(Click image to enlarge)


What can be done?

The best option is to reduce the number of items you use and change to reusable items. The next best option is to ensure you’re choosing recyclable items and recycle as much as you can.

Reduce your single-use plastic – switch to reusable

 Reusable NOT plastic Wax wrap NOT Cling film Bars not bottles  

By opting for reusable items, you can reduce the amount of plastic you throw away. There are lots of ideas, but remember by making just One Small Change, you can make a big difference.


Recycle where possible

Recycling plastic where you can ensure that your plastic is disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way possible and turn the waste into new plastic items.
See what plastics you can recycle.


What is the council doing to reduce plastics?

  • Banned all single use plastic cups from council offices
  • Banned use of plastic straws in council owned community halls


Biodegradable or compostable


Biodegradable - what does it mean?

If something is biodegradable, it will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces by natural processes. Almost any product could be labelled ‘biodegradable’ because most things will break down at some point in the future whether they’re derived from nature, but it could take anything from 6 months to 1000 years to break down. But biodegradable plastic may never fully disappear and just form micro-plastics. 

Compostable - what does it mean?

Compostable materials are materials that have been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components (water, carbon dioxide, and biomass) that will not harm the environment, given the right conditions. The time it takes for something to break down depends largely on the product itself and the composting conditions.

Some materials can decompose in your home compost (like loose tea leaves and apple cores) but not all compostable materials are suitable for composting at home. Bio-plastics (like our garden waste sacks) are fully plant-derived and fully compostable, but they require higher levels of heat, water, oxygen and micro-organisms to fully break down than what your home compost can provide and must fully break down in an industrial (council) composting facilities within 180 days.

At the present time it is not possible to accept compostable cups, plates etc within the food waste collection.  Although these items will break down within the food waste composting process, there is no easy way to tell the difference between a compostable cup or non-compostable when the waste is checked for contamination.  These items will therefore be removed and disposed of.

Why aren't plastic sacks/film recycled by Castle Point?

Recycling sacks provided by your local council are made of a specific type of plastic and colour. This makes them easy to be identified and removed at the beginning of the sorting process by a bag splitting machine. 

Plastic films and other bags mixed with your recycling cannot be separated in the same way, as the automatic sorting equipment is only able to separate plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. The plastic films and bags can cause issues in the sorting process such as wrapping around conveyor belts and clogging machinery. 

Your local supermarket may be able to accept plastic bags and films for recycling as this is collected as a single material stream. Although many have stopped this due to not being economically viable.


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