Is Plastic Pollution Too Depressing To Think About?

It doesn’t need to be. As a consumer, you can make a difference at home and in your organisation.

Not all plastic is bad. Some of it actually helps reduce waste in the journey from factory to the shops.

“assorted garbage bottles on sandy surface” by  John Cameron  on  Unsplash

“assorted garbage bottles on sandy surface” by John Cameron on Unsplash

However, we should, quite rightly, feel angry about plastic packaging that is thoughtless and unnecessary. For example, single-use plastics or plastics combined with other materials that make it harder, or impossible, to recycle.

Take, for example, black food trays for takeaway food. These are notoriously difficult to pick and sort for recycling, so Waitrose has responded by switching to a different material to overcome this. Similarly, packaging made from compound materials, such as plastic attached to card, also poses problems. But there’s usually an acceptable alternative — we all have a responsibility to recognise the issues and insist on change.

So, far from being depressing, this should spur us on into action and make a change. We as consumers have the collective power to change our habits.


Consumers today have a lot more power than we used to. Vote with your feet and wallet by only choosing bands and companies that make an effort with their plastics, and voice your concerns on social media. Businesses who take the time to listen and to respond to your concerns are the ones that will last.

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Coffee shops, for example, can recycle their cups and grounds, and provide facilities for collecting their cups for recycling. Cawleys is just one of the pioneers in providing this service for businesses, so it can be done.

Since last year we’ve been helping the Canary Wharf Estate to recycle all their coffee cups and grounds, helping over 112,000 people working across 97 acres to make it a #CleanCoffeeZone.


It’s not just large corporates that can make a difference; small independent businesses can do it too. We work with Charlie’s Coffee and Company in St Alban’s which sells Coffee Logs; bio-fuel logs made from used coffee grounds. Closing the loop is easier than you think!


In a poll we commissioned through YouGov last year, we found that only a third of people take the time to separate and recycle properly in the workplace. It’s probably due to the knowledge that the local council organises household waste and outsources to different companies.

Household waste is organised by the local council and outsourced to different companies, and each will have its own policy regarding recycling, according to the budget and regionally available facilities. But waste from businesses, and this includes schools, shops, libraries, factories, garages, warehouses and offices of every shape and size, is a different matter and they have to organise their own waste collections…


Here is where we can help. We specialise in business waste. We are experts in delivering waste management systems which are easy and cost-effective in the workplace.

Everyone knows that the simpler a system is, the better it will work and that’s precisely what we provide, tailored to the particular needs of an individual business.

As we have our own Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) we’ve always been able to segregate waste out into different waste streams, but our new Infinity system means we are even more efficient, separating waste at the source, capturing a higher quality, less contaminated waste streams.


Ask these questions about waste management where you work:

● What system of collection is used?

● How many different waste streams are sent for re-processing?

● What’s your recycling rate?

● What happens to the simple things? Coffee cups, batteries from keyboards, lightbulbs or used ink cartridges? All of these things can and should be recycled.

● If you have a canteen, what happens to the food waste?

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If you discover things aren’t quite up to scratch, find a new supplier who can do things better and you’ll be surprised at the effects of a positive change.

At Kettering General Hospital, for example, we supported an incredible campaign called ‘Break, Hydrate, Reuse’. The campaign encouraged staff to take breaks and keep hydrated without using single-use plastic bottles or coffee cups.


We can all take steps to reduce plastic pollution and help make a positive impact. That’s why we’ve started the Small Action Big Impact campaign. A 12-month behavioural change campaign that aims to make sustainability mainstream through small easy steps and guidance.

Managing waste and recycling isn’t the last thing to think about, its right at the heart of a process where everyone can make a difference.

Follow the campaign on Instagram SmallActionBigImpact