Plastic Pollution Reduction in Macclesfield?

If you saw David Attenborough's footage of the plastic pollution in the oceans, you were probably horrified and started thinking about what could be done to reduce the problem.

Macclesfield is a long way inland, and little of our waste finds its way into the sea - apart from litter that gets into the rivers, and plastic items flushed down the toilet.

Also, Britain is not a major contributor to the problem. In 2015, the journal 'Science' estimated 84% comes from 20 countries mostly in Asia.

Fortunately, Blue Planet II struck a chord in China, where reportedly the internet was slowed when around 80 million people watched the second episode. Theresa May (rather pointedly) gave president Xi Jinping the box set when they met in February(!)

In contrast, if all of coastal Europe was combined it would rank only 18th. more

However, that is no reason for us to do nothing.

Previously, this litter has seemed mainly a cosmetic issue; but now we are aware of real casualties of this problem.

The key to ocean pollution lies in understanding and reducing litter and fly-tipping, so that more waste is managed properly and does not find its way into rivers.

So, What Could be Done?

If you are reading this, you are almost certainly not 'part of the problem'. So how do we nudge others to change?

If we reduce the number of single-use items sold to the public, we reduce the 'opportunities' to discard them as litter.

But the idea of a simple 'War on Plastic' risks throwing out the baby with the bath water.  Durable plastic products have served us well in many aspects of daily life - from near-indestructible toys, to reducing the weight of our cars, making them more fuel efficient and safer.

Our focus should be a 'War on Single-use Plastic' - and litter in general.

  1. Get in Touch with like-minded people:-

    1. Transition Wilmslow's 'Plastic-Free Town' website and Facebook page

    2. Transition Bollington's website and Facebook page

      1. Meet them at the Bridgend Vintage Fair on 24th March 10-3pm,
        and The Dog and Partridge, Tuesday 27th March, 7pm.

    3. Rethink Plastic New Mills Web page

  2. Reduce Littering, or Incentivise Litter Picking?

    1. Introduce a deposit scheme on plastic bottles?

      1. The UK uses a staggering 38.5 million single-use plastic bottles every day, of which more than 40% are not recycled.

      2. In some parts, of the country 37% of children drink bottled water rather than tap water (!)

      3. That said, clear plastic PET drinks bottles sink in water (if the tops are removed) but translucent milk bottles and other opaque bottles float with or without their tops. See plastic types

      4. Although PET bottles sink, the bottle tops don't  - and appear to be a tasty morsel to sea birds and larger fish. So there are suggestions that the tops should be somehow made captive on the bottle - such as flip-tops.

      5. A deposit scheme would encourage people to pick up littered bottles, and sell them - before they get into the sea.

  3. Extend Plastic Recycling?

    1. Cheshire East appears to be better than most local councils in the breadth of what plastics are recycled and the information they  publish about Silver bin use, but they could add a reference to the triangular recycling codes to avoid uncertainty about what to do with (for example) "Hard Plastics".

    2. Did you know that Cheshire East now do recycle bubble-wrap?

    3. But cling film should go in your black bin - it is generally too contaminated.

    4. Triggers can be left on when recycling cleaning product bottles such as bathroom cleaners.
      But soap bottle's pumps need to be removed and disposed of in the rubbish bin.

    5. No Nappies Please: They have to be removed from the process by hand....................

  4. Discourage single-use plastic items.

    1. Impose a tax on single-use plastic items - bottles, cutlery, straws, take-away food containers?
      (Is it true that most plastic-bottled drinks are either sugary, or pointless - like still water?)

    2. Buy your milk in glass bottles - delivered to your door

      1. Newton's Dairy, Trevors Close Farm, Dark La, Macclesfield SK11 9QZ. Phone: 01625 423987

      2. Smiths Dairies, Queens Avenue, Macclesfield SK10 2BN, Phone: 01625 616178 Website

      3. John Evans of Marple, for Prestbury and Bollington 01663 741108

    3. Plastic straws are not recyclable

      1. Sign the petition to ban them here.

      2. Use paper straws, or try one of these..........?

    4. Coffee: Have  a re-usable (insulated?) mug for your coffee purchases, and get a discount.


    5. Make takeaway food containers recyclable ?

      1. Ask your local take-away why they use plastic trays rather than aluminium foil or card?

      2. Or plastic cutlery rather than wood?

      3. Can you collect your food in your own re-usable container?

    6. Buy only bio-degradable tea bags or loose tea. more

    7. Extend the ban on micro beads. more

    8. Take a plastic storage box to the butcher or fishmonger, so they don't need to wrap it for you? 

  5. Provide Alternatives to single use products:

    1. Make public water fountains available to re-fill bottles?

      1. Ask your council and local employers to install them.

    2. Persuade local shop owners to offer free refills.

    3. Download the App from to locate free water near you.

    4. Dispel the Myth that plastic water bottles are dangerous to re-fill.
      See the BBC video clip. (Want to know the source of the myth?)

  6. If the Taste of tap water motivates you to buy bottled water:-

    1. Try using a filter jug at home or a filter bottle on the go.

    2. If you like Sparkling Water, consider buying a SodaStream with reuseable bottles.

    1. Toilets cause 7% of plastic pollution on beaches.

      1. Toilets are for Pee, Poo, and Paper.

      2. Get a bin in your bathroom for wipes, tampons, condoms, plasters, dental floss, cigarette ends, etc.

      3. Wet Wipes: Switch to bio-degradable, not just 'flushable'.
        e.g. WaitroseBoots and Andrex. (The labelling is sometimes confusing, with the wrapper itself marked as non-recyclable plastic).

      4. Use Bio-degradable cotton buds (without plastic sticks) more info

      5. See the videos produced by City to Sea and their Facebook page

      6. Can you engage with your local water company? Its in their interest to reduce filter blockages.

    2. But avoid creating other problems:-

      1. e.g. plastic wrapping around a cucumber trebles its fridge-life, and reduces food waste.

      2. Plastic packaging prevents damage to goods in transit - another source of waste.

      3. Glass bottles are heavy to transport, and more liable to break.

      4. Durable plastic items should not be replaced - their disposal is what we seek to avoid.

      5. Do not burn plastic - it needs 2 seconds above 850 deg. C to avoid producing toxic dioxins.
        This can only be done in commercial incinerators.

    3. Publicity: Some big guns are being brought to bear on this problem.

      1. Sky have an Ocean Rescue page and a separate Ocean Rescue website both with lots of videos,

      2. The BBC has a dedicated page explaining the plastic problem.

    4. Learn more about the proposed (New) Circular Plastics Economy/Commitment , INCPEN (The Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment) and WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme)

    5. The Guardian: Michael Gove on Recycling

    6. Transition Northwich are organising a visit To Cheshire West's Kier Recycling Facility at Winsford on 23 April at 14:00–16:00 . See Facebook Event.

      Note: Cheshire East use a different recycler : UPM at Shotton.  The Shotton site principally recycles newspaper and magazines; other materials including mixed paper and cardboard, are separated and shipped elsewhere for more processing at other UK based sites.

    7. Surfers Against Sewage have a Plastic Free Coastlines campaign and downloadable starter pack

    8. Plastic Types
      Plastic is not one material, but a family of many different types.
      The amber coloured cells below show those that float in water.
      The value of recycled plastic is shown on the right.

    9. Wikipedia has a good section on Plastics. It is detailed but well structured, making it easy to skip to what you want to know.

    10. Plastic Facts published by the Association of Plastics Manufacturers.

      1. 40% of plastic goes into packaging. Only 4 to 6% of all the oil and gas used in Europe is employed in the production of plastic materials. (in Asia where 50% of plastic is made, it may be more).

      2. Across Europe, of all the plastic waste that is collected 30% is recycled, 30% goes to landfill, and 40% is burned to recover energy.

      3. Plastic packaging recycling rates are higher at around 40%.

    11. What about Cleaning up the Oceans?

    12. What are the Gyres, what's in them, and why not just clean them up?

    13. Microplastics are pieces less than 5mm in length, mostly broken down fragments of larger items, that tend to float below the surface, turning the sea to soup.

    14. theOCEANCLEANUP. is a project to put slow-moving booms in the gyres to gather the drifting plastic for easy harvesting.

    15. A report published in Nature, March 2018 , states that in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gyre, over three-quarters of the plastic mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass, but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area.

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