We produce more rubbish today than ever before.

The Problem with Plastic

Millions of tonnes of plastics are used in the UK each year. Nearly all the plastics in use are made from crude oil and resist any form of biological decomposition.

These are non-biodegradable plastics and cause problems in waste incineration since many of them give off poisonous gases when burned. They persist in the environment for thousands of years; in our soils, seas, rivers and lakes. They kill marine and freshwater life - see Sea Pollution and River Pollution, factsheets below, for more information.

Biodegradable plastics which are made from sugar and other carbohydrates rot away within months of being buried. However, the cost of biodegradable plastics is far greater than that of ordinary plastics since their production is carried out on a small scale. If biodegradable plastics were widely used in preference to other plastics manufacturing costs would drop dramatically.

Read More: Recycling Organic Waste

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