What ‘Recyclable’ Really Means

As I dilligently peeled the sticky tape off of the cardboard box, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the fact that this was my precious life, my precious moments that were tickling me by. Here I was, pulling the sticky tape off of this supposedly ‘recyclable’ packaging.

At the other end of the box, there was a row of three stables. I tore that piece off at the corner, not willing to risk spilling crimson for the sake of some reusable waste. I could do better, sure, but there was a limit.

Something that I find painfully obvious is how much ‘recyclable’ waste really isn’t recyclable at all. Every card with glitter ends up in household waste and every piece of mixed packaging ends up there, too. People like myself would be far more willing to diligently recycle if recycling was easier to do.

The biggest challenge this morning was the TNT envelope. It said ‘recyclable’ on the back, and yet, on the front there was a plastic film, I’d presume it’s where the paperwork normally goes. Bristol City Council won’t deal with soft plastics! To make the envelope recyclable, I had to sit down and peel the plastic film off of the envelope.

That’s time out of my day, people. Time I could be doing something else, like writing, or blogging, or cleaning. Stuff I want and need to do.

The biggest offenders I’ve noticed are sandwich cartons. You know those cute, triangular boxes that present your chosen sandwich for your purchase? Them. Have you ever noticed what there is on the inside of those boxes?


If I had the time to sit down and find some way of viably extracting recyclable cardboard from scrappy, can’t-be-recycled soft plastic, I would, but I don’t. In my bid to get on and get things done, cartons like this, on the rare occasion that I have pre-made sandwiches, end up in general waste.

That is a travesty, and it definitely makes me more conscientious about buying pre-made sandwiches, which I’m sure is bad business for Tesco.

Another example I had quite recently, I recieved some craft ribbon (some very beautiful craft ribbon, mind you) in a ‘100% recyclable’ postal bag. Except, again, in Bristol, our recycling centres don’t sort soft plastics, so these bags end up in landfill. I’m not saying that it’s the user or the suppliers fault, but I am saying that stamping it with ‘100% recyclable’ doesn’t guarantee that’s the truth.

As someone who sells sometimes on Ebay, I’ve found that the best way to overcome this conundrum is to use 100% paper-based products. Cardboard boxes, Kraft tape and crumpled up recyclable brown paper instead of bubble wrap. It’s not always 100% possible (like when you run out of Kraft tape at 9:30am), but even just reducing how much not-really-recyclable there is is one step towards helping the planet. For suppliers, do away with cellophane windows and soft plastics. Just because it’s recyclable in one part of the world, it doesn’t mean it can be recycled everywhere.

Over and out, people!

Your trying to be more eco friend, Helen xx

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