On 13 December 2018 we pledged to become a single-use plastic free authority. Full details of the meeting can be found on our agenda and minutes page.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have developed a toolkit which details the main criteria needed to achieve Plastic Free Community status. In order for us to achieve this we need to support the key objectives and in doing so ensure that local governance arrangements are put in place.
At the meeting we asked Cabinet to:
- appoint a Council Member representative to the Plastic Free Chester Group
- review all plastic free communities’ initiatives across the borough and set out how we can support these
- that we lead by example and set out a clear plan for removing all single use plastic from our premises
Our plastic free plan is currently being developed and will be made public in the near future.
Plastic is a brilliant product with all sorts of uses, however, our reliance on it has made it a nightmare material especially when we don't recycle or reuse it correctly. It does not rot down and disappear; it just becomes more brittle over time and will crumble into small pieces (micro plastic) which will never go away. It will be around for thousands of years whether in a landfill site or in the rivers or seas. We need to use less of it and be wise about which products we do use.
On average 325 tonnes of plastics are collected by the Recycle First service in Cheshire West every month. Our residents are very good at recycling their plastic bottles and containers but there is still more we can all do.
There is an increasing appetite for the reduction of single use plastics and responsible plastic recycling. This was triggered by the Blue Planet 2 programme in 2017. Having litter picks and beach cleans are all very well but they will not solve the plastic contamination problems.
People can still be confused about which plastics can and cannot be recycled. This means that many plastic items are still not put in the grey recycling box. In Cheshire West there are still many people that put their plastic waste in their black bins.
You can hugely reduce the amount of single use plastic you use just by making a couple of changes each week. You could even save some money. Here are a few suggestions:
- remember your refillable water bottle, you can download the 'Refill' UK app which will show you where you can refill your water bottle anywhere in Great Britain
- take a reusable coffee cup and refuse single-use take away cups
- take your flask on long trips so that you will always have a hot drink at hand
- say no to single use plastic bags, use a backpack or reusable bag for your shopping
- refuse single-use packaging
- resist a plastic straw or buy a re-usable one
- avoid single-use plastics in the bathroom
- refuse single-use condiment sachets
- get local milk in reusable glass bottles
- use a lunchbox and wax wraps instead of cling film
- buy loose fruit and vegetables
- cook fresh rather than having ready meals in plastic containers
- take your own cutlery or use sustainable alternatives
- use bars of shampoo and soap rather than liquid in bottles
- try an electric shaver or reusable safety razor
- buy products in bulk and refill as needed
We provide residents with a simple recycling system where materials are separated at home and at the kerbside. This reduces the amount of contamination going into the recycling process.
Contamination happens when non-recyclable items are mixed in with recyclables items or when recyclable items are placed in the wrong recycling bins. More information about what can be recycled at the kerbside can be found on our recycling and waste collection page.
We are currently unable to recycling plastic bags due to the problems that they cause to our sorting equipment. This is something we are wanting to address in the future.
It is easy to recycle plastic bags at the supermarket, as most supermarkets have boxes for collecting unwanted plastic bags. We also encourage the use of reusable bags instead.
Compostable cups and cutlery
Although compostable items such as cups and cutlery are on the increase, the current recycling processes cannot compost the materials sufficiently. This is often due to the actual composting process, which cannot actually break the item down, which means that the item will contaminate the recycling. These items need to be avoided or put into the black bin.
Hard plastic items such as toys and light switches
Plug sockets are often made from ‘urea formaldehyde’ resin. This is a thermosetting plastic; its chemical structure makes it virtually impossible to recycle.
Plastic toys are often made of hard plastic and other small components that cannot be broken down or are not safe to recycle. You can donate old plastic toys to one of our reuse shops in Winsford, Ellesmere Port or Chester. Charity shops may also welcome looked after toys.
Polystyrene products such as cups and packaging material cannot be recycled at the kerbside. Polystyrene is not widely recycled in the UK because its makeup is a complex mixture of chemicals, which do not react in the same way to heat as other plastics, so it can't be processed in the same way. This is because they are difficult to sort from other types of plastic waste and easily break up into small beads, which can clog up sorting machines. These go into the black bin.
This is because the plastic is likely to be contaminated. Cling film can be soiled with food which can attract pests or cause blockages in automated sorting machines. Cling film is made up of complex chemicals to make it cling and stretch, so it cannot be recycled in the same way as a plastic bottle or tub. This type of plastic goes in your black bin.
Plastic bags are a low-grade plastic, which cannot be mixed with plastic bottles and pots. You can recycle them separately at supermarkets or you could use the bag for your food waste to put in your brown food bin.
Chemical bottles/DIY plastic bottles
The content of these bottles may be hazardous so will not be accepted in your grey box. Please put these in your black bin.
If you want to know what happens to your waste once your grey/red box has been emptied, you can watch a video about it on our YouTube channel.
Cheshire West Recycling manage the collection and recycling of the plastics from the kerbside recycling scheme. This Council owned company work with a number of UK Re-processors who sort the material by polymer type. All recycling processors are regulated by the Environment Agency, and approved by us.
Processors shred/flake, hot chemical wash and compound (re-melt) the plastic back into a recyclable pellet to be made back into either sheets or blown packaging. The processed plastic may then be exported to other countries where they are used for the production of new plastic products.
The target materials within our single use plastic collection is made up of:
- HDPE (Milk/Detergent) bottles
- PET (Water/fizzy drink) bottles
- PP (Butter/sweet/container) tubs
- PS (Yoghurt pots)