Hastings Borough Council announces new recycling plans

Imagine buying a bottle of water and after you have finished with the bottle you throw it away. That bottle ends up in landfill and the wind will ultimately blow it away. In some cases that bottle that you brought will be found floating in the ocean along with millions of other plastic items. The damage to our oceans has been done. It’s time for us to do something about it before it’s too late. 

Since the start of the Blue Planet series on BBC, plastic pollution has become a big talking point in many households across the UK.

As awareness of the issue is increasing many local councils are changing the way they recycle their plastic waste. 

Hastings Borough Council has announced a change to their waste collection service for residents. The current contract run by Kier is set to end in June this year. The council have recently said that Biffa will take on the new contract which will involve waste and recycling collections. 

Biffa is known for collecting waste and recycling from households and then processing it to turn the waste into products including compost and power. 

Cameron Morley, Waste and Cleansing Services Manager at Hastings Borough Council said: ‘’The new contract will give us back direct control.’’ 

This move is all about trying to save the council money but Cameron said that the new contract is around the price as the old one. Unlike the old contract, Hastings Borough Council has decided that the new contract will not contain street cleaning. This will be done by the council themselves. The council will employ their own workers to do this duty instead of the waste collection company doing it for them. 

There will be some changes to the collections for Hastings residents. Cameron said: ‘’ The difference is we are not going to be using the black boxes anymore for glass. That will go in with your normal green bin or pink bags. The idea being it will make it easier for residents.’’

Experts claim that there are millions of pieces of plastic floating around in the ocean. But that’s not the end of the problem. Microplastics are an even bigger problem for nature. The microplastics are microscopic pieces of plastic that cannot be seen with the naked eye; which makes them more harmful. Scientists say that it is highly likely that these microplastics are making their way into the food chain and ultimately we are eating it.   

In some cases, plastics are changing the behaviour of sea creatures. When plastic breaks down it produces toxic chemicals which reduces the amount of oxygen in the water. Female killer whales have been affected as when they eat plastic which then releases the chemicals into their stomachs and this can make it very difficult for them to reproduce. 

EXXpedition an all-female sailing crew will be setting off at the end of this year on around the world expedition to research and raise awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean. The two-year voyage is set to start in October of this year (2019) and will finish in September of 2021. These women are from all different walks of life and nationalities. The project has over 300 women helping throughout the trip. 

As part of the EXXpedition trip, a few members of the crew sailed to the Great Pacific garbage patch. This is a large collection of different types of rubbish including ghost fishing gear and plastic formed by the tides and currents in the ocean. There has been no recorded size for this patch but it is thought that it could range from 270,000 sq miles to 5,800,000 sq miles which is similar to the size of Russia. 

Sally Earthrowl the mission leader for EXXpedition said: ‘’Quite often in the UK people think that they are doing their recycling and we are doing everything we possibly can but actually there’s not really a way for rubbish and that it does go somewhere. Plastic doesn’t really disappear.

‘’Our mission is to make the unseen seen.’’ 

The project took a trip to the Caribbean in March 2016 where they conducted a survey of the area of 20 square meters. The report showed that there was 360 plastic bottles, 84 plastic bags, 437 polystyrene containers and 247 plastic bottle tops. 

The report also looked at how the toxins and chemicals in the ocean are affecting the human body. On one of the EXXpeditions all the crew had their blood tested for 35 indicator chemicals. The research showed that 29 of the chemicals were found in the blood of some of the crew, and some of the crew members had traces of mercury in hair samples.  

There are many ways in which households could reduce their plastic consumption. Households could take reusable water bottles to work and school instead of buying single-use plastic bottles from the shop every day. 

Families could try to buy fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging and film on them. This only gets thrown away when the item has been opened. 

You could also keep your shopping bags in the car just in case you need to go shopping. This will save you using a plastic bag that you will only use once and you will not need to pay five pence for one neither. 

The large pieces of plastic can be cleaned up but there is no easy way to clean up the microplastics. The problem cannot be solved with a click of a finger. The way to stop this from becoming an even bigger problem is to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean. 

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