Plastic recyclers from around the world: How innovators are dealing with plastic pollution

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Plastic pollution is a huge problem which is seriously damaging the planet and in particular, our marine landscape. Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of all sea turtle species as they mistake plastic for food (source: Ocean Conservancy). This is something that’s close to our hearts at DCW Polymers. We make it our mission to recycle as much of the South West’s plastic waste as we can, processing in excess of 100 tonnes of plastic a week. Thankfully, business leaders from around the world are starting to tackle the plastic problem too, becoming plastic recyclers that aim to inspire others to take action. Here, we round up the projects and businesses tackling plastic waste that stood out to us:

Surf’s up for wooden body board initiative

Plastic Free North Devon (PFND), a charity which aims to reduce the impact of plastic pollution along the North Devon coast and beyond, has started renting out wooden body boards to beach goers. After more than 500 polystyrene boards were collected from Croyde beach in 2019, PFND was keen to launch an initiative which will help combat the amount of polystyrene left on the coastline. The cheap polystyrene body boards can break down easily after a few waves have been ridden, but the sustainable wooden boards are expected to last for decades.

The charity was concerned that polystyrene body boards were becoming a single-use item with Keep Britain Tidy estimating that more than 14,500 plastic boards would be sent to landfill this summer. It’s not just the disposal of these boards that’s a problem. It’s how they get to the UK too. According to PFND, the average body board is manufactured in China and travels over 5,000 miles just to be used a couple of times before it breaks down and gets sent to landfill. About 99% of all plastic comes from fossil fuels which are refined, manufactured and transported. Every stage of this process is damaging to the environment (source: PFND). By renting out wooden body boards, the charity hopes to change people’s attitudes towards using cheap polystyrene boards.

PFND member Andy Clee told BBC Spotlight: “We really have got to start thinking long term about the impact that our lifestyles and choices are having and make some serious changes. It’s fantastic to think that something that our grandparents’ generation enjoyed can still be enjoyed by their grandchildren” (source: BBC News).

Next time you’re enjoying the North Devon coastline, head to Saunton Surf Hire where you can rent a wooden body board. You’ll also be helping the community as the profits will be split between local charities.

Don’t throw your water bottle away. Eat it!  

Now this is seriously cool. In 2013, London-based Skipping Rocks Lab developed an edible and biodegradable alternative to plastic in order to reduce the amount of plastic waste the human race creates. Named Ooho, the flexible packaging is made from Notpla, a material which combines seaweed and plants. As the world’s first entirely edible water “bottle”, Ooho can hold water, flavoured drinks and even cocktails, enabling Skipping Rocks Lab to launch its product at sporting events and festivals. The “bottles” look like squidgy orbs and you simply eat it whole, leaving you with absolutely nothing to throw away. The team have also developed sachets for condiments which can be composted with the rest of your food waste (source: Notpla).

Skipping Rocks Lab continue to look into how else Ooho can be used to combat plastic pollution but in the meantime, consumers can try it for themselves at Selfridges’ London store. If you are an organiser of a sporting event, festival or an owner of a take-away restaurant, you can order Oohos to ensure you offer a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging. Last year, over 30,000 Oohos were handed out to runners who were participating in the London Marathon.

You really need to see it to believe it. Click here to watch a quick YouTube video which gives a demonstration of Oohos.

A bag that animals CAN eat

Unfortunately, plastic packaging is regularly consumed by animals who mistake the material for food. Indian company EnviGreen has completely turned this concept on its head by developing a biodegradable storage bag that can actually become food for animals. EnviGreen’s products are made from natural starch, vegetable oil derivatives and vegetable waste which are 100% biodegradable. The bags dissolve in hot water or you can even eat it if you really want to! If animals come across any non-degraded EnviGreen bags, they can eat them with no adverse effects (source: One Green Planet).

Claiming to be the first company to develop a biodegradable alternative to plastic packaging in India, EnviGreen’s products include carrier bags, rubbish bags, oil and grease sachets, bin liners, packaging films, aprons, wrapping covers and laundry bags (source: EnviGreen). Let’s hope that more supermarkets across the world embrace products such as EnviGreen’s in a bid to go plastic-free.

We contribute to developing a plywood alternative

The recycled plastics that we process at our plastics reprocessing plant, DCW Polymers, contribute to the making of Storm Board, a plywood alternative. The UK imports about 1.4 million m3 of plywood every year from across the globe. Many of these boards are used temporarily for applications such as site hoardings and then head straight to landfill. Furthermore, plywood is often coated with paint, varnish or wood preservative thus adding to the cost and becoming unsustainable.

Storm Board turns waste plastic into a weatherproof and 100% recycled plastic alternative. As well as being the authorised distribution partner for Storm Board across Devon and Cornwall, DCW Polymers also contributes to the making of the product. We can process in excess of 100 tonnes of plastic per week from South West businesses. Waste plastic gets turned into plastic granules which go back into the manufacturing process and contribute to the making of products such as Storm Board.

DCW Polymers offers a plastic recycling service, collecting items from businesses such as plastic bins, playground equipment, garden furniture, plastic pallet crates and even larger items such as kayaks and fuel tanks. If you’d like to know more about how we manage and recycle plastics at DCW Polymers and other waste services, click here or call 01392 537126.

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