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plastics mixed in the food waste

Earth Day 2024: Food waste vs. Plastic – Can we have both a clean plate and a healthy planet?

This Earth Day, the theme “Planet vs. Plastics” is a stark reminder of the growing crisis of plastic pollution. Here at Keenan Recycling, we see the impact of this issue firsthand, as significant amounts of single-use plastics end up mixed with food waste in the bins (see image above) we collect across the UK.

Food waste and plastic contamination: A double-edged sword

While diverting food waste from landfills and converting it into clean energy is a cornerstone of our mission, we encounter a significant obstacle: plastic contamination. Food waste often comes mixed with various types of plastic packaging, hindering the recycling process. Microplastics, tiny plastic fragments often found in packaging, can also sneak into the waste stream, posing a significant threat to the quality of our compost and biogas.

Why is plastic contamination a problem?

  • Inefficient sorting:¬†Plastic film, bags, and other non-compostable materials require additional sorting, slowing down the process and increasing costs.
  • Reduced compost quality:¬†Microplastics, tiny plastic fragments, can contaminate the compost produced from food waste, rendering it unsuitable for agricultural use.
  • Health risks:¬†Studies suggest potential health risks associated with microplastics entering the food chain through contaminated compost.

Beyond environmental impact: The human cost of plastic

The theme for Earth Day 2024 highlights the alarming health risks associated with plastic pollution. Microplastics have been found in everything from our food and water to the air we breathe. The potential long-term health consequences remain unknown, but the potential for harm is undeniable.

Joining the fight against plastic: A shared responsibility

We believe in a collaborative approach to tackling plastic pollution. Here’s how we’re working with our partners to address this issue:

  • Raising awareness:¬†We educate our customers about the importance of proper food waste separation and avoiding single-use plastics.
  • Advocacy:¬†We actively support initiatives and regulations promoting sustainable packaging solutions and phasing out single-use plastics.
  • Collaboration:¬†We partner with environmental organisations to develop innovative strategies for reducing plastic contamination in the waste stream.

What you can do to make a difference

  • Reduce single-use plastics:¬†Opt for reusable shopping bags, containers, and water bottles whenever possible.
  • Choose wisely:¬†Support businesses committed to sustainable packaging solutions.
  • Recycle properly:¬†Learn about proper food waste separation to minimise plastic contamination.

Together, we can turn the tide against plastic pollution. This Earth Day let’s pledge to do our part in protecting our planet and ensuring a healthier future for ourselves and generations to come.