Plastic…A Dirty Word!

Oliver Hazell, Managing Director of GD Environmental talks about the required focus if Wales is to win its ‘War on Waste’. 

The Welsh Government should be applauded for its recent announcement detailing plans to reduce waste and further develop Wales’ capacity for recycling. After all, Wales uses around 725,000 plastic bottles a day and recent high-profile campaigns by Sky News and the BBC’s Blue Planet programme have made it clear the impact that plastic has on our environment.

We just cannot go on the way we are.

Plastic bottles and rubbish, floating in water.

A Guardian newspaper report on the 11 December last year talked of Wales ranking second in the world for recycling household waste.  Policies brought in by the Welsh Government as well as a target for zero waste by 2050 have driven the country up the global league table, to come in just below Germany.

According to a report from the environmental analysts Eunomia, with recycling rates of 63.8% for municipal solid waste, including household plastic and other packaging, Wales is set to become the world leader for recycling in 2018.

So, is the latest Welsh Government announcement for an extra £15 million of capital funding earmarked for improving councils’ recycling collection systems and infrastructure, including for plastics, the icing on the cake?

Does the fact the Welsh Government wants to make Wales the world’s first ‘refill nation’ and is set to work with the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs and other devolved administrations to consider a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, as well as amending existing rules so producers and retailers pay a larger share of waste management costs, evidence that the battle is surely being won? Not quite.

A great deal more needs to be done before victory is declared over waste, everyone’s common enemy.

There are a number of big issues that need to be addressed, namely, are the recycling targets REALLY being met and will the manufacturers of plastic change their ways?

The public is generally not aware that there is good AND bad plastic. In actual fact, most single-use bottles fall into the former category, are not straightforward to process and are economically unrecyclable.

A plastic bag that has been placed in a steel bin.

Since 2005, firms creating packaging waste are obliged to buy a “packaging recovery note”, or PRN, to offset the cost of dealing with it, with the charge acting as a small incentive to use greener packaging and the money raised helping to fund recycling.

These PRNs have failed to deter manufacturers. Plastic bottles are still being created in their millions with little regard for how they will eventually be disposed of.

The result has been that the cost of any PRN’s added into the recycling stream, eventually gets moved on to the customer, without driving any real change in the process. The emphasis therefore needs to be on manufacturers and they should be made to change their ways.

This seems to be something central government has recognised. Easily recyclable, safe packaging that we can keep out of nature’s way has to be a priority. The pressure is placed too much on the general public and the end of life processors, who are fighting a difficult battle.

According to the Independent newspaper, in an article on May 19th of this year; the UK government now wants to supercharge the system, with manufacturers who use unrecyclable plastic forced to purchase PRNs at extreme amounts.

Will this cost be passed on, or will it lead to change? Should legislation regulate what can come into the market through means other than financial?

The change is no doubt also being driven by the fact that China has banned imports of plastic waste, leading to a desperate need for new UK recycling capacity. Beijing had imported some 7.3 million tonnes of plastic waste a year from developed countries, including the UK. Its closure as a destination has seen waste piling up at British plants.

Plastic water bottles that have been bagged together for recycling.

As the Independent article goes on to say: “If you increase the cost of PRN, then you also have more money for recycling capacity, which can be used as a way of growth within the recycling industry in the UK.”

So, whilst Wales should rightfully be applauded for being proactive and leading by example, when it comes to tackling waste and increasing recycling figures, ultimately, it’s the manufacturers who really need to play the game – they need to create a product that is truly recyclable.

Additional money coming in, should also be used to focus on awareness, making it easier for the public to recycle, rather than being in fear of putting the wrong product in the wrong bin. The battle is only just beginning!

We bet you didn’t know these items could be recycled!

The UK Government are looking towards a ‘green future’ with a 25 year plan to ‘improve the environment’ which focuses heavily on decreasing the amount of disposable ‘avoidable’ plastic waste to help protect the planet.

Although plastic is the largest contributor of waste, there are also lots of other items that can be found around the house which can and should be either recycled or reused.

Some household items that you thought you wouldn’t be able to recycle, well it turns out you can!

Wine Corks

Recorked UK are the leading natural wine cork recycling association. They ask that you donate your wasted wine corks to be repurposed for bigger and better things.

Cork forests are one of the most valuable resources for our planet, they’re considered the ‘lungs of the environment’, as they absorb lots of carbon dioxide in the air.

They’re also home to a number of endangered species. So, it’s important that the products made from them aren’t wasted and instead, are suitably decomposed of or reused.

Recorked want to combat the amount wasted and have partnered up with pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants and recycle cork efficiently. They then either re-sell them on for reuse and donate part of the profit to charity.

They also re-purpose them and donate them to schools to turn them into artistic masterpieces.

Recorked also create new household items from the recycled cork, which means you can buy mini cork plant-pots and even cork yoga mats!

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste is essentially anything electronic; laptops, mobile phones, televisions etc. It is the fastest growing waste contributor in the UK, with a staggering 2 million tonnes being thrown in the bin each year.

Most electronics contain valuable metal parts including gold, platinum, copper, silver and more. If these are recycled instead of wasted, the valuables can be recovered and then re-purposed to create more products.

Why not earn money and recycle at the same time! There are companies such as Envirophone and Mazuma which offer cash for your phone, which they then recycle to make new phones.

Actress and Fashion Guru, Nikki Reed, has even teamed up with Dell computers to create a circular jewellery brand ‘Bay You With Love’, which makes beautiful jewellery from re-purposed e-waste.

If you’re struggling to figure out what to do with your old electronics, we at GD, accept all forms of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous e-waste and suitably recycle it at our specialist waste transfer stations.

Whiskey

A Scottish company, Celtic Renewables, aren’t ‘wasting a drop’ of Whiskey.

They discovered, that when Whiskey is distilled, only around 10% of it is sold on as final product and the majority is wasted, which is known as ‘Draff’ and ‘Pot Ale’.

The industry as a whole annually produces around 1,600 million litres of Pot Ale and 500,000 tonnes of draff which could instead be transformed into more useful resources.

Celtic Renewables have invented a way to turn this waste whiskey into a sustainable biofuel to power your car instead!

Who’d have thought!


There are many advances in recycling innovation, the more research and planning put into production, the more circular we can make the economy as a whole.

After all, you’re only limited by your imagination!

If you are inspired to recycle more waste, in either your home or at your office, please get in touch with us on 01633 277 755. We’ll be happy to help!

How To Reduce Your Easter Waste

Good Friday (30th April) kicks off the beginning of the four-day Easter weekend which is spent with family, friends and generally involves a lot of chocolate consumption!

However, the amount of waste produced during the Easter break is huge…

That’s why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you reduce your waste this Easter.

Easter Eggs

You might be thinking, leftover chocolate, really?! But, yes this is more common than you may think. 18,000 tonnes of chocolate and sweets are thrown out each year in the UK.

So, how can you change this?

Simple, buy less eggs! You’ll not only save money and cut down on any food waste, but your Easter will also be healthier!

Easter Egg Packaging

Easter eggs are notorious for having a lot of waste packaging, a study by Wrap found that in 2016, the country threw away approximately 3000 tonnes of packaging over Easter.

To reduce your Easter waste, make sure that the Easter eggs that you buy have minimal packaging and are easy to recycle, there will be symbols on the back of the boxes that will tell you if the packaging is recyclable or not and also the correct way to recycle each part. Then once you’re finished, make sure to recycle properly!

Easter Cards

Around a million cards are sent over the Easter Holiday in the UK each year. This contributes to lots of paper waste, but it can be avoided!

Most cards are easy to recycle. The majority are paper based (including the envelope) and so can be recycled easily in your household recycling bin. Some supermarkets accept cards back and will recycle them for you.

Please note that any fancy embellishments including, ribbon or glitter can’t be recycled and so they need to be removed first.

Easter Flowers

Flowers are a common gift given to people at Easter time. However, most flowers in supermarkets are wrapped up in plastic which inevitably is wasted as soon as the flowers are transferred to a vase.

You can still buy a beautiful bunch of flowers from a florist or supermarket, but try and avoid the nasty plastic packaging, or recycle it!

We would just like to say a Happy Easter from all of us at GD!

Also, our office will be closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday (30th March to 2nd April). However, we will still be available for pre-scheduled commercial client work and our on-call/ out of hours service.

If you have any queries or require specialist advice, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01633 277 755.

How To Deal With Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed can become a real nightmare for homeowners across the UK.

Here at GD, we want to make sure our customers are aware of the problems that Japanese Knotweed can cause and also that we can help to treat it.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is a fast-growing weed that is known to spread rapidly and if it’s not dealt with properly, it can de-value buildings and houses due to the damage it can cause to structures.

It grows aggressively and quickly and as a result, a lot of homeowners struggle to remove it effectively.

Japanese Knotweed growing next to river bank.

To eradicate the plant, it’s large underground network of roots need to be killed and all above-ground portions of the plant need to be controlled repeatedly, as this helps to weaken and kill the entire patch.

Growing at a rapid rate of up to 4cm per day, if it grows in or around your personal property it can significantly decrease the value of the house or building and make it very difficult to sell.

How do I identify Japanese Knotweed?

Between March and April, Japanese Knotweed produces red coloured roots which grow up to 2-3 metres high, they resemble bamboo stems. There are large 10-15cm long ‘shield-shaped’ leaves which grow up the plant on all sides.

An image of Japanese Knotweed growing in a garden.

In Summer, between June and September, it is known to bloom white flower clusters, then in the Winter months the flowers and leaves fall off and the stem turns brown in colour.

How can GD help?

We would always recommend treating Japanese Knotweed as soon as it becomes visible; the longer you leave it to grow, the more difficult and costly the removal process becomes.

We firstly offer to provide an onsite survey to identify the scope of the Knotweed growth and recommend the best form of treatment.

For the most effective method for removal, is to isolate the Knotweed prior to commencing work, to ensure any disturbance of the plant, by workers, vehicles or members of the public, does not cause the problem to escalate.

Post isolation, we have several methods to remove and treat areas contaminated with Japanese Knotweed, including excavation, herbicide injection, glyphosate injection, foundation treatment and incineration.

Once we have ensured that the treatment and removal of all the Japanese Knotweed and contaminated soil waste has been successful, we will dispose of the harmful waste in a suitably licensed facility.

If you’re worried about invasive Japanese Knotweed and would like more information on our treatment service, visit our dedicated service page here, or please get in touch for a free consultation on 01633 277 755.

Keeping Our Capital Tidy During the Six Nations

It’s that time of year again. Six Nations rugby is finally back and Wales kicked off their campaign with a bang against Scotland in front of a delighted home crowd.

Hundreds of thousands of fans arrived in Cardiff on the opening day of the tournament and it was a brilliant weekend full of celebration that showcased our fantastic Capital.

Picture of Welsh flag.

But the opening weekend of the Six Nations also represented a massive match day challenge and that was how to tackle all the rubbish.

It’s easy to get caught up in the match day atmosphere and forget about the huge clean-up operation that takes place after a game in the capital, but don’t!

Here are a few simple ways you can help keep Cardiff clean during the rest of the Six Nations and help us keep our Capital tidy.

1. Stick to one pint…cup

Plenty of pints will be drunk out of plastic cups during match day, but rather than get a fresh cup every drink, try sticking to just one and recycle your cups if possible.

If you can’t find a recycle bin to put your cup in, leave it at the bar, but don’t drop it in the streets.

2. Don’t drop your litter

There are more than enough waste bins provided across Cardiff for anything that can’t be recycled such as some food packaging and wrappers.

Please don’t dump your rubbish on the streets. It leaves a bad impression on everyone.

Not only will people have to clean up your waste, but, if you’re caught littering by a waste enforcement officer, you will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80 (Cardiff Gov).

3. Gum be gone

Chewing gum belongs in the trash bin. It isn’t bio-degradable, which means it won’t naturally decompose and will remain as a tough-to-clean eyesore on our pavements and roads.

4. No if’s, no butts

Don’t forget to use appropriate ash bins to dispose of your cigarette ends, there are plenty of them around Cardiff city for you to use.

If after the 6 Nations games, you find yourself surrounded by waste that could and should be recycled, contact the GD team and we can answer any questions you may have.

Give us a call on 01633 277 755 for specialist advice.

Simple Ways to Cut Down Your Waste & Save Money During Lent

February marks the start of Lent, a Christian tradition which begins on Ash Wednesday (14th February), and finishes on Holy Saturday (29th March).

The season is focused on giving something up for forty days, and more often than not, people use Lent to give up on indulgences that they often take for granted.

That inspired us to think of a few items you could give up during Lent that could not only help improve the environment but also save you money!

Cut down on plastic packaging

One area we could all work on improving is cutting down the amount of plastic packaging we use. Not only is it easy to do but it can make a massive difference to our environment. During Lent, could you:

  • Carry reusable shopping bags?
  • Quit bottled water, carry a multi-use bottle and refill with tap water throughout the day?
  • Avoid buying pre-packaged fruit and vegetables when you carry out your weekly grocery shop?

Multiple water bottles lined up next to each other.

Stop wasting much food

According to the Food Standards Agency, the UK throws away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from its homes every year! That’s roughly £470 of food waste per household.

Use Lent to switch up your grocery shop:

  • Create a meal planner before you go shopping, not only will this help you stop buying those food items you never end up eating, but it could save you lots of money throughout the year
  • Store your food properly to prevent it going to waste
  • Recycle some of your food waste by creating your very own compost! It’s great for your garden and a wonderful way to turn your food waste into something good for the environment

By making even small changes to your grocery shop, you could make big changes to how much money you save and how much food you waste.

Reduce the amount of water you waste

Have you ever considered how much water you could be wasting in your household? Why not use Lent as an opportunity to use a little less water and save a lot more on your water bills!

  • Take shorter showers
  • If you’re going to use dishwasher, make sure it’s full
  • Only put a clothes wash on if you’ve got a full load to clean

A shower head with running water.

Making small changes to your life, even for forty days can make a huge impact to the environment – and once you’ve cut certain things out of your life, you can learn to cut them for good!

If you would like more information on the recycling services we offer, please get in touch on 01633 277 755

4 Items You Can Recycle At Your Office

Waste Paper

Have you ever thought about how much paper we use in day to day life? According to research by ORS, “the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year”.

To put that into context, that’s an average of four boxes of paper per year, each box costing around £10, which means roughly £40 of paper is used every year by people working in offices across the UK.

If you think that statistic is high, consider the fact that on average, 6800 of the original 10,000 sheets used are wasted – and often, aren’t recycled properly.

That’s two-thirds of paper being wasted per person, per year.

Or, more simply £6.80 of paper waste for every £10 spent.

So, how can we stop this?

  1. Firstly, ensure your office has correctly labelled recycling bins – clear instruction never goes amiss.
  2. Each time you receive an email, consider if it really is necessary to print.
  3. Try printing double-sided where possible – especially when printing large documents.
  4. Go digital. If you’re in a small meeting, with only a few people present, provide your reports on tablets or around a laptop.

Printer Cartridges

Another big source of office waste is printer cartridges.

It’s estimated that 65 million ink and toner cartridges are sold in the UK every year and that 85% of them are simply discarded or sent to landfill; where it can take up to 1,000 years for them to fully decompose.

Throwing them away in the trash also adds unnecessary toxins and pollutants into the local environment.

How can you recycle a printer cartridge?  

  1. You can donate them. There are lots of charities asking for donation of ink cartridges.
  2. Invest in some refillable ink cartridges.
  3. Some supermarkets have specific areas where you can recycle ink cartridges along with batteries and light bulbs.
  4. Some ink cartridge manufacturers ask for used cartridges to be returned for a discount to be provided on future orders.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Whilst sat at your desk, have a think about the electrical goods in the room:

IT equipment; computers and laptops, keyboards, telephones, mobile phones, maybe a TV screen? There are electrical appliances to consider too: kettles, mini-fridges, lights, headphones and more. The list can go on. Have you ever considered what happens to your electrical waste when you purchase new models?

The United Nations University carried out a study, that concluded 43 million tons of electronic waste alone, was generated in 2016.

The Telegraph states that in context, “On average, each Briton throws away between 20 and 25kg of e-waste each year”. Most of this waste ends up as landfill, putting both people and animals at risk of harm.

How Can You Safely Dispose WEEE?

  1. AT GD, we operate safe waste transfer stations that are licensed to accept and process both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Here we recycle 98% of all waste processed.
  2. Don’t buy new tech just for the sake of it. Yes, we all want the newest phones, laptops and desktops, but ask yourself if it’s necessary. If so, research how to safely dispose of your used models!

Pens

When your pen runs out of ink, you throw it in the bin. It makes sense, right? But when you look a bit closer, that leads to a huge amount of waste that could instead be recycled! The market leader in the stationery industry, BIC pen manufacturers, sells 8.76 billion items each year.

Even though BIC proudly state that ‘The BIC Cristal® ballpoint pen that writes for more than 1.2 miles (2 km)’, once they’re finished they’re likely to be thrown out, instead of recycled. That’s a lot of plastic to end up as landfill.

Let’s recycle pens properly:

  1. Collect all broken/unusable pens and send them in bulk to recyclers.
  2. Or, buy biodegradable eco-friendly writing utensils.

Conclusion

Recycling in the office is a simple and effective solution for disposing waste, and it can save companies a considerable amount of money in doing so.

If you have any questions regarding recycling in your office, or if you would like more information on the services we can offer, please get in touch on 01633 277 755

Powering 2018 With Recycling Innovations

Towards the end of 2017, viewers in the UK watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II were shocked to discover the damaging impact of human waste on our planet.

Let’s roll into the New Year with change. 2018 brings a new year for people to think globally, take action, and take a step in the right direction towards a greener future.

Here are some ingenious ideas which have recently come to light and could make a real difference to our environment.

Turning Coffee Ground to Biofuel

One entrepreneur has found a unique use for coffee bean waste. Bio-bean’s founder, Arthur Kay, was inspired to look at the process of collection and use of coffee grounds, due to the sheer amount of waste that is accumulated annually, a shocking 200,000 tonnes each year, in London alone.

A picture of coffee grounds, which are now being used to help create bio-fuel.

The Bio-Bean factory recycles 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year, by mixing with oils and fats to create a bio-component. This is then combined with a mineral diesel, creating the final product; coffee-derived B20 biofuel.

This is not only a fantastic recycling opportunity, but also a way to generate new energy.

Recycling Plastic Bags to Petrol

Researchers, at the University in Illinois, have found an innovative way to reuse plastic bags, slightly different from the usual method of keeping them stored in a cupboard or drawer!

By heating the plastic to melting point and combining with hydrogen atoms, they have been able to create liquid hydrocarbon fuel (petrol) in order to power cars.

Plastic is largely made from polyethene (a fossil fuel), which is such a durable product that it can remain unchanged on earth for hundreds of years. As shown on Blue Planet II, this can cause huge damage to ecological environments. So, finding new ways to reduce plastic bag waste can only be a good thing.

This latest innovation is not only reducing the amount of plastic sent to landfill and saving the oceans, but also helping power our vehicles.

Creating A Solid Foundation with Plastic Bricks

Some plastics are incredibly strong and an Architect graduate from New York has found a new way to granulate plastic bags and mix them with concrete to form bio-bricks.

A picture of a large 'ByBlock', an eco-friendly building block created using plastic.
A large ‘ByBlock’, created by company ByFushion (http://www.byfusion.com/byblocks/)

 

In Sussex, they have similarly started a scheme to use recycled plastic bottles, turning them into bricks for construction. It only takes around 20 bottles to create one brick.

There are many advantages to using this method: not only does this reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, but it is also cheaper to manufacture, has better insulation and noise prevention properties in comparison to concrete.

What an efficient and necessary solution to plastic waste!

Conclusion

These brilliant ideas will contribute to saving this beautiful planet we live on. Sometimes all it takes is an idea to make a real change to the world.

If you find yourself surrounded by waste that could and should be recycled, contact the GD team and we can answer any questions you may have.

Give us a call on 01633 277 755 for specialist advice.

‘Tis The Season To Recycle!

Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year. We are surrounded by presents, food and most importantly, family and friends.

However, Christmas is also an extremely wasteful time of year.

We spend hundreds of pounds on food and drink, only to throw large amounts away. The average household throws away 30% more at Christmas than throughout the rest of the year.

On average, an unbelievable 226,800 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year.

This year why not help our environment by recycling your wrapping paper? It can be reprocessed back into packaging, extending its lifespan for years to follow.

Around 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away each year.

The majority of Christmas cards are paper-based and can be recycled, along with their envelopes. Some may believe that Christmas cards are an out of date notion. However, they are still widely used and will probably hang around for many years to come.

TIP: Create your own cards from recycled paper, fabrics and other items you might otherwise throw away.

A whopping 6 million Christmas trees are disposed of, every year.

Artificial Christmas trees are far more environmentally friendly, as they can be packed away and reused again each year. Alternatively, purchase a real tree with a healthy root ball and you can re-plant and reuse it again the following year – now that is a green Christmas.

Merry Christmas from all at GD and a Happy New Year!

If you have any queries or require specialist advice, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01633 277 755.

Blue Planet II – Small Changes Make A Difference

Packaging is an essential resource used for protecting produce and providing information for consumers. Once packaging has served its purpose and disposed of, most people don’t give it another thought. However, given the topical problem of too much plastic in our oceans, very much brought to light in the second edition of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, it’s important we take responsibility and look at ways to reduce and recycle packaging.

Blue Planet II took a deeper look into the amount of plastic in our oceans, highlighting that every year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean, where it can prove fatal to marine life.

Dolphin caught in plastic waste
Original image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/7576773812

 

If Blue Planet II has inspired you to help our oceans, we can help shed light on how small changes you make, really can make a difference to the bigger picture.

Here are some tips that we have for reducing, reusing and recycling packaging:

Reduce

Choosing to purchase products with less packaging, such as loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed, will play a vital role in the reduction of waste produced.

TIP: Replace your general waste bin with a smaller container, as well as ensuring there are additional containers for recyclables. This will encourage segregation and correct disposal of waste.

Reuse

Alternatively, look to re-use your packaging. For example, plastic and cardboard boxes can be used as storage for a number of household items; including food tins, toys, clothing and shoes.

How much money do we waste in purchasing new carrier bags each time we go shopping? Re-use will not only save us money but will benefit the environment.

TIP: Keep a store of plastic bags in the boot or glove box of your car, so that they are to hand whenever you decide to go shopping.

Recycle

Making wiser choices when shopping can also help: Choose products with packaging which can be easily recycled. Simple changes such as this can have a big impact on the amount of waste you are recycling, rather than throwing away.

If you have any questions regarding recycling, please get in touch on 01633 277 755