Wish you Were Here?
Through most of the lockdown period, the UK has experienced unseasonably good weather. If you have a garden or can get out for local walks, it is delightful. Still, many people pine for a day at the seaside.
There is nothing like water stretching to the horizon, sand between your toes and a little dip in the sea on a sunny day. Whilst we miss out, wildlife reclaimed this natural habitat.
There are reports of sandwich terns, oyster catchers and ringed plovers returning to UK beaches to nest. A growing number of sightings of seals, dolphins and other marine mammals are being recorded by researchers. Across the world, record numbers of turtles have dragged themselves out onto the sand.
We have only been in lockdown for a matter of weeks, yet nature has made the most of the opportunity. Our impact on wildlife has been made crystal clear.
Packaging Waste on Beaches
Much of the packaging waste that is now a common feature at these sites of natural beauty remains. Our lack of time at the beach is preventing some plastic bottles, food wrappers and other discarded waste for adding to the pile, but most beach litter is washed ashore.
The long-term impact of our throwaway culture is not so easy to overcome. Did you know that according to the European Environment Agency, plastic accounts for 82% of the litter on European beaches? Plastic bottles, food containers, straws and bags. Many of these items can be recycled, but they are not; Why?
Why is Plastic Packaging Waste not being Recycled?
Much of Europe’s plastic waste has been shipped abroad for processing. As more countries refuse to accept it, poorly managed facilities are popping up. They can not manage the volumes received, so much is discarded in watercourses.
Plastic waste collection facilities vary across the UK and Europe. There are also different grades of plastic. Whilst Council websites and packaging labels provide information, not everyone is clear what can be recycled.
What About Cardboard Packaging Recycling?
Paper and cardboard packaging makes up 2% of the litter found on European beaches. Whilst zero would be better, this is considerably lower than plastic.
Consumers know that paper and cardboard packaging can be recycled and kerbside collection and recycling facilities are widely available. Currently, 83.6% of the UK’s cardboard packaging is recycled.
Should cardboard packaging end up in the sea, it is naturally biodegradable; it will break down. Whilst this should be avoided, the long-term impact is lower.
What Can We Do to Protect Natural Landscapes?
Respect Sites of Natural Beauty
People are now permitted to return to the beaches in Australia and New Zealand. We will soon be allowed to return to the coast. When you do, keep away from any areas which are set up to protect wildlife. Remember to leave nothing but footprints; take your packaging waste home for recycling. You could even join an organised beach clean and make a bigger impact.
Be Selective with Product Packaging
When shopping, select goods with no packaging or packaging that can be recycled. If your preferred brand isn’t up to speed, write and let them know; consumer pressure can influence business decisions. Put them in touch with Aylesbury Box Company if cardboard packaging could be a solution. We help companies to rethink product packaging and switch away from plastic.
Make good use of your recycling bin and local recycling facilities for all waste. If waste is sorted, more waste will be recyclable.
Time to Think
The lockdown has provided us with time to think and consider our priorities. If you have enjoyed the bird song and missed trips to your favourite beach, be sure to hold onto these priorities as things gradually return to normal.