Plastic Pollution
The Lifecycle of Plastic: Even Recycling Can’t Save Us


For millions of people across the globe, the Climate Crisis is terrifyingly real, and recycling has become second nature. But this doesn’t seem to be making a difference; why are we still drowning under tides of plastic?

Now more than ever, recycling has become an necessity, sweeping through homes across the UK, and rightly so with the Climate Crisis reaching unfathomable proportions.

Yet, somehow, our planet is still suffering. Why?

The good news is, the public are doing everything they can. The bad news is, large, wealthy industries certainly are not.

According to GreenPeace, the United Kingdom currently produces more plastic waste per person than almost every other country in the world, with huge amount of it sent abroad to countries that aren’t equipped to handle it.

During an investigation conducted by Greenpeace, British plastic waste was found being dumped and burned in Turkey – on the roadside, near waterways and in the open air. Consequently, local people living nearby these dumping sites have now reported serious health problems.

In 2016, the World Population Review reported that the United Kingdom was responsible for 6.47 million tonnes of plastic waste, placing it in the top ten countries producing the most plastic waste.

So, where is all our recycling going?

It goes to one of three possible places:

  1. Incinerators, which cause both air and noise pollution. In the UK, incinerators are usually found in low-income areas.
  2. Landfill, which infamously leaches toxic chemicals into the environment.
  3. Abroad. Shockingly, the government ships over half of our plastic waste to countries with very low recycling rates.

How to Recycle at Lancaster: A Student’s Guide

Lancaster University has already been awarded Gold for Environmental Impact by QS World University Rankings, having saved thirty-five tonnes of plastic waste from landfill last year alone.

Furthermore, Lancaster is currently the leading university in the country for renewable energy, having reduced campus’ electricity and heating emissions by 50% since 2005 and pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.

Across campus, students will find recycling stations, divided into four categories:

  1. Cardboard: this must be in its pure form, with no plastic (including sellotape or cellophane) or food attached.
  2. Food/drinks cans, and plastic bottles: completely empty. WARNING: In Lancaster, juice/milk cartons cannot be recycled curbside. These items must be deposited in specialised bins in town.
  3. Paper, newspapers, and magazines: dry, without other substances on them -for example, a greasy Gregg’s wrapper or with Sellotape attached.
  4. General waste – single-use waste that doesn’t fit the above requirements.

Additionally, campus has eight stations for recycling clothes and shoes, four battery bins, and all old electrical equipment – printer cartridges, wires, and devices – can be recycled in the Porter’s Lodges. Compost bins and community fridges can also be found dotted around campus for unwanted food.

With the Climate Crisis escalating, we all need to make our own carbon footprint a little smaller.

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