Saturday, 24 December 2016

Waste Not Want Not even though it’s Christmas!

With the end of the year fast approaching, and the biggest excesses ahead of us over the next few days, before you tuck into your Christmas dinner, here’s a quick look at some startling festive figures, and some top tips to avoid waste this year.
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Over Christmas, as a nation, we waste an extra 80%! Yes, you read that right, according to the Government-funded Waste and Reduction Action Programme (WRAP), we waste 80% more food at Christmas between us, roughly 230,000 tonnes of food which could be used to feed those less well off. Food for thought indeed!

So what does 230,000 tonnes of food look like? Imagine 74 million mince pies, or 2 million turkeys! And the cost of all this is a whopping £275 million...
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A study held at the University of Manchester revealed just how damaging our excesses are to the environment as well – our total household carbon footprint for every Christmas dinner in the country is the equivalent of driving a car all the way around our planet at least 6,000 times.

So there are some mighty figures to contend with concerning what we put on the table, but what about the rest of the festive excitement?

Britain wraps up so many presents that we use up enough wrapping paper to stretch around the planet 9 times, or go straight to the moon.

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But don’t feel bad for having fun with friends and family, as it’s a lot easier to make nifty little changes to minimise waste than you think...

Top tips to give the planet a good Christmas (as well as your pocket)

·        Buy presents with less packaging; reuse paper that was going to waste to wrap them in – even newspaper wrapping can look pretty cool when you tie it up in a ribbon – get creative and see what you can do!

·        Send Christmas cards made out of recycled paper, and always recycle those you receive instead of putting them in the bin.

· Compost all your vegetable peelings on the big day instead of throwing them away, as this can make a huge difference nationwide.

There are loads of great recipes online to find new ways to use up leftovers instead of binning them – BBC’s Good Food has plenty to check out as a starting point or check Love Food Hate Waste

·         Challenge your friends and family to go as waste free as possible, and then you encourage each other and measure the results. Making changes is always more fun when someone else is doing it with you

·         Freeze your leftovers when you’re full, or share them via a food-sharing app such as OLIO and let someone else happily eat the rest of your sprouts if you can’t face it for the third meal in a row.

So there we have it, another year almost over so let’s not waste all the lovely food we’ve grown in 2016! Here’s warmest wishes to you all for a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2017 from the team at EMERGE and FareShare Greater Manchester. Thanks for all your support throughout the year J

If you know anyone who might be spending Christmas alone and without a meal get in touch with FareShare today and we’ll see if we can point you in the right direction. If you are a business in Manchester City Centre with lots of excess to recycle, then get our Daily Takeaway service to clean up before everyone even comes back in the office, call us on 0161 223 8200. Closing 23rd December and reopening 28-30th Dec then back in from 3rd January.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Scary food waste: how to save your pumpkins this Halloween #PumpkinRescue

Halloween can be an exciting and festive occasion but some things are definitely scarier than others, as research by the charity Hubbub reveals there are 15 million pumpkins likely to be wasted this week.

 While many of us may be eating leftover sweets and chocolate tomorrow that the trick-or-treaters didn’t get their hands on, spare a thought for all of these vitamin A-rich beautiful pumpkins that are getting carved and not eaten.

This is why Hubbub and Unilever have launched the #PumpkinRescue campaign, in order to raise awareness of this huge food waste issue and spread the word as well as plenty of tasty recipes.

Whilst there is every reason to make a ‘Donald Trumpkin’ this Halloween and spook your friends and neighbours, the gorgeous fleshy insides of the pumpkin should not be overlooked.

Hubbub carried out a survey of 2,000 adults across the UK, discovering that 2 out of 5 will be carving a pumpkin this Halloween and that most of these will carve at least two.

Here comes the horrifying, hide-behind-the-sofa part – 8 in 10 of those surveyed said they want to reduce food waste but over half confirmed they didn’t think of Halloween pumpkins as food.

Image credit: Hubbub UK
In fact, half of those in the survey admitted they hadn’t eaten pumpkin before, despite there being so many opportunities to give it a try at this time of year.

As for the remains of these carved pumpkins, not all of these are being put in food waste containers (only 45%) or composted (28%), meaning an incredible 5 million gorgeous gourds are still being sent to landfill or incinerators.

The founder and CEO of Hubbub, Trewin Restorick, said that as Halloween gets more popular year on year in the UK, it is “really important that this doesn’t create an ever larger mountain of food waste.  We must recognise that pumpkins are a valuable source of food and not just for decoration, if we are to tackle the 7m tonnes of food and drink wasted from British homes each year. Halloween is a great opportunity to help our children understand where food comes from and involve them in cooking a simple meal with their pumpkin carvings.”

Many cooking and composting festivals and events are taking place around the UK to celebrate the pumpkin, and you can find many exciting recipes to help to reduce this scary statistic. Enjoy!

The Future of Plastics Recycling

We have come a long way from throwing everything in landfill, but when it comes to recycling plastics, there are many confusing issues that leave many of us wondering what plastics can actually be recycled.
EMERGE plastic recycling
Image credit: The Recycler

With the recent news that more and more of the household waste we send to be recycled is getting rejected by recycling centres due to low quality of recyclate materials, many are looking out for industry initiatives to help clear the air and figure out what exactly the state of play is.

As you know, there are tonnes of different plastics out there, but many Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) will only take plastic bottles (without the tops). This message is taking a while to sink in, and meanwhile we are all drowning in plastic waste while current market demands are so limited.

So where does our industry stand on the relatively low levels of plastic recycling? In 2015, an initiative was set up by the Waste Reduction Action Programme (WRAP), a government-backed charity that works with businesses and industry to reduce waste through the use of best practices. What does this mean for the future of recycling plastic?
EMERGE plastic recycling

The aim is to recycle 57% of all plastics packaging by 2017, according to the sector-wide agreement generated by the PIRAP scheme, but last year the figure was only 38%.

Current market volatility means that creating a sustainable path towards plastic usage is far from easy as commodities such as the oil price dictate how much value there is in recycling certain plastics.

This is where the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) comes in, with around 50 signatories so far adding their support, in an effort to produce a framework for greater consistency including informing consumers what we should be doing with plastics, plus implementing concerted strategies to reduce unnecessary waste within the supply chain.

One of the latest big players to sign up to the PIRAP scheme is The Co-operative, who became the first retailer to back the PIRAP Plan. The Co-operative’s environment manager, Iain Ferguson said they are “proud” to be involved, noting that the retailer acknowledges the significance of making sure “everyone plays their part in increasing plastic packaging recycling.”

Since coming into effect last year, Helen Jordan of the British Plastics Federation says that “...big steps have already been taken, by uniting the supply chain, which shows how each stage of the supply chain can impact on recycling”, whilst adding that the BPF hope that more companies and organisations will also sign up to the PIRAP scheme.

There are many exciting developments in terms of finding new and innovative ways to use plastics and make them more degradable. In fact, the global plastics additive market, (adding components to increase performance) is set to be worth a staggering $64.6billion by 2020, which shows just how much the industry is investing in innovation.

EMERGE plastic recycling
One such progression is a type of plastic known as oxo-biodegradable, where the plastic breaks down after its useful shelf life.  Thanks to a two-step process polyolefin chemical compounds allow the plastic to ‘oxo-degrade’ to short-chain oxygenated molecules which can then be broken down by micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi.

If you are a business in Greater Manchester trying to figure out where you should be recycling your plastic waste, get in touch with us here at EMERGE Recycling, and give us a call on 0161 223 8200 or check out our website

Monday, 24 October 2016

Why it’s Time to Talk About our Plastic Use

With everyday items cluttering up our planet, it’s starting to get a bit too close for comfort. Now that plastic is killing the fish in our oceans, perhaps it’s time to think more about what we use and how we manage it responsibly...

Urban plastic waste
Image credit: Pixabay
Litter has long been the blight of our countryside as well as in urban areas, and much of it is plastic with no sign of abating. Our love affair with non-biodegradable materials is creating more waste than ever before...

World production of plastics has increased twentyfold since 1964. 20 times more! This staggering increase is only set to continue, with the figure set to double again over just a couple of decades. If current trends remain unaltered, we will see that level of production quadruple from where we are at today by 2050.

According to a recent report carried out by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by the time we reach the halfway point in this century.

Seal trapped in plastic waste

Photo of a seal ensnared in plastic-fabric rope; just one of the many wildlife forms battling with plastic nasties in our oceans. 
Image credit: CityLab

Just let that sink in for a moment. Oceans are home to fish, (amongst other creatures), and it is where they have existed for longer than we have been walking on land, yet their habitat is being taken over by this plague of plastic that humans cannot stop using. Figures suggest that the equivalent of one refuse truck worth of plastic is dumped in the sea every single minute.

It can be incredibly easy to blame a figurehead, and let that rest as the excuse for why we consume quite so many plastics, but that doesn’t give a fair representation of the culture we live in.

In the UK alone, we love to buy food products full of unrecyclable plastic, such as ready meals, as well as packaged meats and vegetables. Black plastic (crystalline polyethylene terephthalate, CPET) remains one of the highest used materials, as it can withstand both extreme hot and cold temperatures; yet it cannot currently be easily recycled in the UK.

Black CPET plastic waste
Image credit: Sustainable Brands
We use 1.3 billion of these little trays every year, equating to 30,000 tonnes annually, and we just throw them away. If all black CPET plastic was recycled, it is estimated that it would save local authorities £2.2-2.8m a year, which could certainly be put to better use.

All that plastic film which covers many of your foodstuffs? All of this we just throw away as well. Our desire for convenience is leaving our planet unable to cope, as we choose not to consider where the waste ends up as long as the produce we seek is kept fresh.

Everybody has the power to make a small change, just by considering the products you buy. On average, 16% of what you spend on an item is the cost of packaging it, which is just thrown away. By aiming to reduce the amount of food and other daily items covered in needless packaging, it is really possible to stop us literally swimming through plastic on our holidays in 2050.

EMERGE daily takeaway

For some helpful ideas on how you can reduce your plastic waste, check out this handy link from the Green Education Foundation.

If you are looking to get more of your plastics recycled, check out our Daily Takeaway service to bring down the costs of disposal and help out the environment at the same time. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Shining the Spotlight on Rio’s Waste Heroes

Another Olympics may be over, but the headlines aren’t completely done with yet. So many people from around the world descended on Rio for just two weeks,  and naturally municipal planners expected a large influx of recyclable materials to be collected and sorted through.

Image source: Luiz Galerani/The Guardian

This is where the recycling heroes of Rio 2016 took centre stage, as revealed by an interesting article from The Guardian.

Rio, and Brazil in general, have yet to fully unify their waste management programmes, and this is why co-operatives set up by the waste pickers themselves has proven to be a fantastic strategy; not only helping Rio to reduce their carbon footprint, but also allowing workers to pick up a better wage as a mass collection of recyclable materials yields better prices per weight.

The partnership involved Rio 2016 and Coca-Cola, as well as the local Rio state government and the federal government of Brazil, who have together invested R$3m (£720,000) into the initiative to help get it off the ground.

Haroldo Mendonça, the solidarity economy coordinator from the labour ministry, said he wanted to use the accomplishments of this enterprise to show “an example to other countries to show how to combine environmental care with economic empowerment.”

Such is the success of this movement that these co-operatives managed to fend off tenders from private firms to secure the contract for the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the model is set to be repeated across many of Rio’s celebrated events, such as the Carnival and events held at the famous Copacabana beach.

EMERGE Recycling employs some of Manchester’s ‘local heroes’: social enterprise workers who engage the wider community collecting waste for reuse and recycling across the city-region. Accordingly, we send our best wishes and congratulations to all the Olympians for the closing ceremony taking place here in Manchester later today. EMERGE is certainly doing our bit locally to support resource-efficiency and the circular economy.