Statistics and Questions

Out of the 116kg of litter removed from the Back Beach on Isle Martin on the 5th of June, 106.5kg went to Caithness to be buried as landfill and 9.5 kg have entered the recycling system graded into the following categories:

drinks bottles Drinks bottles will be recycled into more bottles

milk bottles graph  Milk bottles will be recycled into more bottleswashing up bottls copy   Washing liquid bottles, will  be going for power incineration for electricity
aluminium cans Aluminium cans will be remade into new cans
Tin cans copy Tin cans will be added into general steel reprocessing

I am seeking permission to document all the above processes, from the multiple companies dealing with the materials and  my results will be posted.

Of the 25 strand-lines that I have recorded in Ross-shire and Sutherland over the last 12 months the highest percentage of litter is made up of commercial fishing related materials such as ropes, and cord. Given that it is going to take years before the volume of litter we find on the beaches is reduced, I am asking the obvious question :

Can more of this litter be recycled or at the very least be used for fuel in electricity plants?

I have thrown this question out to the waste industry specialists that I have met, but I am welcome any information and ideas that readers have regarding the processing of the mixed plastic waste that makes up so much of our litter and our refuse bins. Two particular items that we find masses of on the beach are plastic caps and polystyrene surely they can be recycled

 caps-     polystyrene

Having now seen the variety of plastics that gets sorted and categorised for processing at one transfer station which includes a vast array of plastic bags from the thin supermarket carrier bags to pet food sacks and bubble wrap I wonder why we are often not encouraged to include these in the recycling bins.

stretching plastic quality copy     coloured plastic

Querying the value of plastic bags at Munros Transfer station Billy Munro explained to me the value of the various different grades of plastics by stretching the plastic between his fingers if it stretches well and is un coloured, thankfully like the bag I brought my litter evidence in from Isle Martin, then it is of high value and will be worth recycling . If on the other hand bags are coloured and have little stretch they will go for incineration. Let’s hope we see fewer bags and when we do that they are un-coloured.






2 thoughts on “Statistics and Questions

  1. Yes every time I open a sack of dog food I wonder what will happen to it when it goes in to recycling bag as we have weekly recycling pick ups here. Shame to think it will be burnt but better than being buried; though we have a way to go before we have plants that burn these and put power back in to the community but think Wales is edging its way forward to being a true eco country… poor as we are, relative to other countries in UK / mainland Europe, Wales devolved government has taken some serious decisions regarding waste. More to do but being informed is the only way for each of who are part of the problem to become part of an answer…I do think there is more than one answer.

  2. I think Wales has much to teach both Scotland and England on how to increase recycling rates. I am working my way through the UK statistics and its incredibly complex but what is obvious is that in 2012 London had the lowest recycling rates, so too many Highland areas while some counties in Wales like Bridgend,Caerphilly, Denbighshire had the highest rates for recycling as high as 58%. Over all Wales 2012-13 had a 52% recycling rate . Lets shout it loud and learn from Wales! I will post more of the stats in my next blog, thank you for your comment!

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