Packaging Detective

Click on the picture to download the complete 2-page document.

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to speak to Brownies in East Tytherton about litter, recycling, and re-use. I was really pleased to hear that the girls already had a firm grasp on recycling and not littering, and was incredibly impressed to hear that some of their parents were even trying to go plastic free. I think the world might be in a much better place if the Scouts were running it!

One of the activities we did was Packaging Detective, which encouraged them to look out for different symbols on packaging to determine if it could be recycled or should be binned. You can download a copy of the reference sheet yourself and give it a go yourself or with your own kids – are you surprised by anything? I am also planning to make up Bingo board to make symbol hunting a bit more fun (in the meantime, you can give Brand Bingo a try).

You actually do have to be a bit of a detective to figure out what the hieroglyphics on packaging mean. Like the Green Dot: this is a common symbol that uses arrows, but doesn’t represent that the packaging has been recycled or can be recycled. Instead, it means that the company has made a contribution to packaging recovery and recycling in Europe.

I feel a simplified system for both symbols and the recycling process in general is needed if the UK is serious about reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill. For example, each Council determines what can be recycled:

  • In Wiltshire, plastic bottles of any colour can go in the blue bin. This includes: washing up liquid bottles, bleach bottles, laundry liquid and fabric conditioner bottles, cooking oil bottles, drinks bottles, juice or squash bottles, milk and yoghurt drink bottles, handwash bottles, and shampoo/conditioner bottles. It does NOT include plastic tubs or yoghurt pots, among many other things.
  • In Bath, the guidance is that “Any plastic bottles (including drinks, shampoo and bleach bottles), plus pots, tubs and trays used to hold food” can go in the green bin.

Most people don’t think of plastic as being a particular type, like polyethylene terephthalate (better known as PET or PETE) or low density polyethylene (LDPE). It’s just plastic. But contamination of a batch of recycling with the wrong materials means it all has to be scrapped and sent to landfill. So please take a few minutes to check that you’re sending the right products to be recycled where you live  – check out Recycle Now or Google “recycling in [your county]” for more information.

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