News and Advice from the NGS team

Recycling Campaign

Monday, April 02, 2012

Recycling, Re-using, Reducing have always been keywords with us here at The Natural Grocery Store where we try to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible.

That’s why we recycle absolutely everything we can.  Sometimes, it’s almost in spite of ourselves – if you try to get through the corridor at the back of the store you can’t move for stacked cardboard ready to be recycled.  Look in the loo (no – really) – we’ve got a hippo bag to minimise the water we use, and you can wash your hands in biodegradable detergent.  You won’t find a standard lightbulb in the place – they’re all low-energy.  We use Ecotricity for all our power as well.

Rather than installing air conditioning, we’ve covered the front windows of the store with solar film to keep temperatures down.

Nearly all our staff cycle to work – and we make sure there are plenty of places they can leave their bikes safely.  With some places, you either get the feeling they’re using their environmental credentials as a marketing tool.  With others, it’s all so hair-shirted it hurts.  For us, it’s simple.  We believe the smaller our footprint, the better for the world.  That's why we recycle and re-use absolutely everything we can. 

When our chums at Suma carried out their repackaging exercise in April we were delighted that their own branded pre-packed range are now all in a revolutionary rPET (recycled PET) film bags. Well done Suma!

As exciting as this is however, it has highlighted the difficulty in finding sufficient places to recycle PET material when not in the more commonly known rigid PET bottle format.. Many councils find it difficult to deal with a PET film because it is likely to blow about – therefore Suma suggest that you roll up empty rPET bags and poke them into a PET bottle for easy recycling. Great thinking!

In their investigations into various waste handling operators whilst developing their new packaging, Suma soon realized just how ill equipped the UK is to meet its recycling targets and just how much more needs to be done to achieve this. Sadly PET recycling plants are few and far between but in order to put pressure on Local Councils to look at their current recycling facilities, Suma have composed the letter below that we invite you to use to voice your concerns over these issues:

Copy this and send it / email it directly to your local authority department responsible for rubbish, waste and recycling and copy to: (You may need to search your councils website for the right email address to send it to)

LETTER: To whom it may concern,

 We feel that the UK is seriously lagging behind in the effort  to increase the amount of waste we, as a nation, divert from landfill into recycling.

In particular, the amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be in excess of  3 million tonnes, of which approximately 56% starts its life as packaging. 

In 2006, the UK Government published national packaging recycling and recovery targets requiring 25.5% recovery of plastics waste by 2010.

Although facilities exist for easy-to-collect, profitable-to-process PET containers, other plastic packaging, including recycled PET film, is rejected.

The wholly unimpressive result of this lamentable state of affairs is that less than 10% of total plastic waste arisings are currently being recycled: plastic consigned to landfill can take 500 years to decompose.

We demand that government at both local and national level:

  • put pressure on packaging manufacturers to use recycled and recyclable materials
  • increase investment in appropriate recycling facilities
  • incentivise the wider use of recycled plastics
  • meet and then exceed its stated targets for recycling.

Yours faithfully, [YOUR NAME]