In July we had a rubbish meeting but I really enjoyed it. By rubbish, I’m not talking about the evening or the speaker, I’m referring to the subject: we were discussing recycling with councillor John Fisher. David Attenborough’s documentary on plastic pollution showed we have a rapidly escalating problem and Swallowtail WI wanted to learn how we could lessen our impact on the environment.
We learnt that our recycling goes to the Materials Recovery Facility at Costessey and from there 90% of household recycling is sent to reprocessing plants in the UK and 10% is sent abroad. Cardboard is currently the only material sent to other countries, because no recycling facilities in the UK have enough capacity to deal with the amount we throw away. Plastic milk bottles and drinks bottles are sent on to Lancashire and mixed plastic pots, tubs and trays are sent to Kent.
Swallowtail WI attracts members from four different council boroughs and once we got past the conversation about why we all have different colour wheelie bins, we got down to a surprisingly interesting and engaging discussion on what we can and can’t put in our bins.
I didn’t know that it’s okay to put black plastic in the recycling, that you can leave metal caps and lids on glass jars and bottles, and little pieces of foil need to be scrunched up together to form a fist-sized ball, so they can be easily separated from paper.
It can sometimes be hard to decide which bin something goes in, but it’s important to avoid putting anything in the recycling that you’re unsure of, because around 14% of Norwich’s recycling is rejected due to contamination. Everything must be clean, dry & not in a bin bag. Dirty rubbish is another source of contamination and can spoil tonnes of perfectly recyclable waste.
There’s a helpful list on the Norfolk Recycles website that explains what you can and can’t recycle. I left feeling inspired and encouraged that steps are being taken to responsibly deal with our waste, but I think there’s room for us all to do more.
At our meeting, we also welcomed Earth Glade, an eco business run by Swallowtail Szara. She and her partner Dave gave us the chance to discover some of the eco-friendly products we can buy to help us become more environmentally friendly.
It was a great night with lively discussion on how to be better at helping the planet. One thing we could all agree on is that we want to do our bit to be more sustainable, and with the power of WI members all over the UK, we can make an impact.
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