Metro.co.uk‘s #Just1Change campaign aims to empower readers to get stuck in with environmental conservation, and incorporate sustainability into their day-to-day lives.
Frequently used by the food-packaging industry, black plastic is cheap and the dark background makes food look more appealing to consumers.
But is this chic-looking material actually recyclable?
Here is all you need to know.
Can you recycle black plastic?
Black plastic is recyclable, but waste sorting systems can’t recognise black pigments.
Special laser technology is used to do this sorting, and black plastic is difficult for lasers to see, and therefore is generally not sorted for recycling.
An estimated 1.3 billion black plastic trays are used in ready meal packaging in the UK every year and – according to Greenpeace UK – most of those end up in landfills or the ocean.
Greenpeace UK claims that creating a new recycling system that is able to distinguish black plastic would take a lot of time and money.
Instead, they are calling for the government to ban ‘problem plastics’ as a way of preventing black plastic trays from ending up in landfills.
Various major UK supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison’s, Asda, Iceland, Waitrose, and Lidl previously pledged in 2019 to stop using black plastic for their own product ranges.
What can you do to help the black plastic crisis?
The best thing to do to help the cause is to simply stop purchasing items sold in black plastic.
Make sustainability the new black by opting for clear or white packaging instead.
Some local councils accept black plastic for recycling – it is worth checking out your area’s website for more details.
If you put black plastic in your recycling bin without checking with your local authority first, you risk contaminating your other recyclables.
If this happens, they could be sent to landfills instead of being processed for recycling.
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