UK's First Plastic Bag Recycling Plant

  • Vicky Siviter
  • 2nd October 2013

Earlier this week we learned that the UK's first plastic bag recycling plant is to open near London. The announcement comes shortly after Nick Clegg announces a 5p plastic bag tax that we're in support of - so how does this latest environmental initiative shape up?

Firstly, it's great to hear that the UK's plastic bags are being recycled here in their country of use. For decades, they've been shipped off abroad to be recycled or, more frequently, left to fill up landfill sites. As I'm sure you've seen first-hand, the bags may then make their way into the ocean, only to be washed up on our shores or harm marine life off the UK coast. Clearly, the ability to recycle plastic bags in London will help prevent this issue for arising, but is it really a solution to our plastic bag problem?

Unfortunately, we think not! By using mass-produced plastic bags, we are still helping to promote a culture of disposable shopping and lack of environmental concern. Only a limited type of plastic bag can actually be recycled (usually the thinner food bags rather than shoppers), so this news may accidentally send out a false message to the plastic-using masses.

While it's clear that these thinner plastic bags are, in some cases, necessary to store and transport fresh food, we must be careful not to confuse this usage with disposable shopping bags that can more easily be replaced with canvas. We're hoping for - at the very least - a happy medium between necessary, fully-recyclable plastic, and more sustainable and stylish eco-bags.

Nick Clegg's decision to introduce a 5p tax for plastic shopping bags still serves to reinforce the government's push towards a more eco-conscious population, and we firmly believe that reusable eco-bags are the most effective and long-lasting solution to our problem with plastic.