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. This website aims to answer that question.

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.

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

Britain is not a major contributor to ocean plastics. In 2015, the journal 'Science' estimated 84% comes from 20 countries mostly in Asia. In contrast, if all of coastal Europe was combined we would rank only 18th. more

Fortunately, Blue Planet II struck a chord in China; 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(!)

However, the fish in our coastal waters are being affected too.
So, let's put our own house in order.

What Can We Do?

Lots of the big changes, such as the deposit scheme on bottles and cans, are being made by goverment and trade associations, but this website suggests ways you as an individual can make a difference - by your own actions, and by influencing others.

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':-

Reduce Litter

Buy Fewer Single-Use Items

Bottled Water - The Alternatives

Toilets Cause 7% of Beach Pollution

Avoid Creating Different Problems

Recycling - Do it better

Get In Touch

Background Information

Ocean Clean Up

Visit the Macc-tastic less Plastic event at the Treacle Market June 24th

Reduce Litter?

If an area is clean, no-one can claim their new litter makes no difference.

  1. Pick up a few bits of litter when you walk down the street (with or without your dog). In Sweden runners are encouraged to try Plogging (collecting rubbish as you run). Dog walkers tend to have preferred routes, and could easily 'maintain' them - and improve the environmental image of dog walkers at the same time.

  2. When you are at the seaside, pick up a few items of litter.
    See the video at

  3. Ask your council for more litter bins in the street.

  4. Motivate more people to avoid littering.

    1. Publicise the effect of litter on marine life.

    2. Are schools able to employ high standards of recycling on-site - to create a benchmark for young minds?

    3. Incentivise the use of litter bins.

      1. Appeal to local pride e.g. 'Don't Trash Macc'
        (see other campaigns)

      2. Apply the new £150 fines for littering

    4. Maintain a cleaned environment where littering is unusual and therefore noticed and frowned upon.

  5. Print some posters? (download these pdf files).

  6. Introduce the 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. The deposit scheme will encourage people to pick up littered bottles to claim the deposit (as in Germany) - before they get into the sea .

Buy Fewer Single-use Items.

  1. Coffee Cups: Each year in the UK, fewer than 1% of the 2.5 billion paper coffee cups used are recycled.

    1. Take  a re-usable (insulated?) mug for your coffee purchases, and get a discount.


    2. Coffee Cups CAN be recycled in Cheshire East. Tear the cup, breaking the wax seal and allowing the chemicals used in paper making to 'get under the skin', and put it in a Silver Bin.

  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. Disposable? Think twice about buying anything with the word 'Disposable' in the description.

  4. Shaving: Stop using disposable razors. The combination of steel and plastic cannot be recycled. Use an electric razor, or a safety razor with replaceable blades. see the video

  5. Plastic straws are not recyclable

    1. Support the proposed ban on plastic straws and plastic cotton buds

    2. Sign the petition to ban plastic straws here.

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

  6. 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?

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

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

  9.  Buy refills for glass jars (e.g. spices, coffee), liquid hand soaps, wipes.

  10. Shops that still offer free plastic bags; ask them to stop proffering them, and provide only when asked. (Make an end to "Would you like a bag for that?" )

  11. Buy Butter and Margarine in foil rather than tubs.

  12. Buy Shampoo Bars instead of bottles.
    e.g. Lush

  13. Extend the ban on micro beads. more

  14. 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?)

Bottled Water: The Alternatives

  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?)

  5. If the Taste of tap water makes you 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 reusable bottles.

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

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

But avoid creating other problems:-

  1. For example, 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 into dangerously sharp pieces.

  4. Unlike metal, plastic items don't rust or need (toxic?) paint coatings.

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

  6. 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.

Improve our Recycling?

Recycling is more about conserving resources than pollution reduction. Any rubbish put into the local  'Waste Management System' will indeed be managed - with the worst case being landfill. However, since the introduction of the Land Fill Tax of almost £90 per tonne, everyone in the waste management industry is highly motivated to recycle as much as possible.

Increasingly, the worst case is incineration for energy recovery. Even then, the resulting ash is sifted for recoverable metals, and the remaining ash is used for road-building.

Residential rubbish from kerbside collection in Cheshire East no longer goes to landfill:-

Silver bin contents are taken to UPM at Shotton.  The site principally recycles newspaper and magazines; other materials including mixed paper and cardboard, are separated and shipped elsewhere for more processing , mostly quite local to Shotton and all within the UK. What cannot be reused, is burned for energy recovery.

Black bin contents are sent to MES Envrionmental at Stoke for energy recovery. Metal is recovered from the ash, and the ash itself is used as road-building material.

Rubbish taken to a Recycling Centre (formerly 'The Tip') goes a different route, via H R Martin. The staff at these sites encourage visitors to put plastics in the right skip for recycling, but not everyone can be bothered.

Commercial waste collection is partly undertaken by the council, and partly by private contractors such as Henshaws, Veolia and Biffa who have their own materials recovery systems.

Waste in Litter Bins is not currently sorted, but there are plans to introduce high street recycling bins. Their success will depend on clarity of signage, and goodwill on the part of the public.

How is Recycling Sorted?

  1. Description of the sorting procss at UPM Shotton here .

  2. Watch the Video of how silver bin material is sorted at UPM here

What Can You Do to Help?
The quick rule of thumb is to put only plastic items which you can crush in your hand into the silver bin; otherwise use the black bin.

  1. If you want to know more: Follow the Guidance on Cheshire East's website, and on the the flyer.
    They describe both the most ecological and economical way to dispose of each material. (and it avoids having your bin rejected at the kerbside.)

    This advice aims to strike a difficult balance between simplicity, and completeness; High Peak Borough Council use the same recycling company, and some people prefer High Peak's advice for recycling plastics in their brown(!) bins.

  2. Use the Recycling Codes moulded into plastic items to avoid uncertainty about what to do with "Hard Plastics".

    Unfortunately, there is currently no market for some recycled plastic grades; they end up being burned for energy recovery.

    Recycled PP (code 5) yoghurt pots, tubs, and trays have no resale value today, but please do continue to put them into the silver bin as instructed - as we expect this situation to change for the better in due course, and in the mean time, the silver bin energy recovery costs less than black bin energy recovery.

  3. If in doubt, put items in the black bin, or call 0300 123 5011 for advice.

  4. Bottle tops are best left on the bottle. Squeeze the air out of drinks and milk bottles, so they occupy less space, and refit the cap tightly to keep them squashed in. This also stops broken glass etc getting inside the bottle.

  5. Coffee Cups CAN be recycled in Cheshire East. You must tear the cup, breaking the wax seal and allowing the chemicals used in paper making to 'get under the skin'.

  6. Plastic bags go into the Silver bin. The film usually comprises several layers of different polymers that can't be separated for reuse in any way, but  the bags are used for energy recovery.

  7. Cling film should go in your black bin - it is generally too contaminated.

  8. Books generally contain too much glue in the binding for making into new paper, but telephone directories contain so much paper they are acceptable.

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

  10. Arrange a free talk or workshop by Ansa or Cheshire East for your community group or school.

  11. Don't Bin it; Donate it.

    1. Try a local Charity Shop. Small pastic toys, clothes, and bric-a-brac are well received, but books are a mixed blessing to charity shops. Some books can be sold for 50p-£1; The Ziffit App uses your phone to scan barcodes and give an instant value to some books; Everything else goes to World of Books earning the charity only 2.5p per kg. (that's 0.6p for a paper back, or 3p for a coffee table book)

    2. Local Groups such as Freecycle or MaccRecycle will generally put you in touch with someone who wants your item and will collect them within hours.

    3. Textiles and footwear recycling bins are to be found outside corner shops and supermarkets

  12. Scrap Metal: The silver bin can accept only cans, but Henshaws will buy quite small quantities of scrap metal, car batteries etc. 

  13. Psychology: The Viridor Recycling Report 2017 found the reasons people DO recycle were-

    1. Because I care about the environment.

    2. Because everyone else in my local community recycles.

    3. Because I want future generations to grow up in a world that is environmentally safe and,

    4. Because I feel bad about throwing things away.

Get in Touch with like-minded people:-

  1. Visit the Macc-tastic less Plastic event at the Treacle Market Sunday June 24th, 10am  - 3pm

  2. Transition Wilmslow's 'Plastic-Free Town' website and Facebook Page

  3. Transition Bollington's website and Facebook Page.

  4. Transition Buxton's website and Facebook Page

  5. Rethink Plastic New Mills Web page

  6. Transition Northwich

Background Information Sources

  1.  Try this mind Map; one of several from Learning Fundamentals in Australia

  2. 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.

    3. The Daily Mail and  Keep Britain Tidy are running 'The Great Plastic Pick Up', from May 11 to 13.

  3. What are Supermarkets doing to help? BBC article

  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. Note: Cheshire East use a 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. 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 green cells on the right show the only grades that have a recycling value.
    Note that coloured material is worth less.
    The other grades tend to be burned for energy recovery.

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

  9. BBC guide to identifying plastics here

  10. SLOactive have an informative webpage on the facets of plastic pollution.

  11. See the Viridor Report on UK Recycling 2017 . Key findings:-

    1.  Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers were frustrated that different councils collect waste in different ways.

    2.  Three-quarters (73%) of the UK public said they would like more transparency on what happens to their waste.

    3.  Only half (49%) were very confident they put different waste in the right bins.

  12. 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%.

What about Cleaning up the Oceans?

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

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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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