Almost half (46%) of the UK public feels that too much multi-use plastic is recycled unnecessarily and believe that local councils (56%) and the government (46%) have a part to play in tackling this issue.
The study set out to uncover public awareness about plastic bread baskets and other delivery trays and containers to shine a light on what is an increasingly important environmental issue impacting the food industry and, more specifically, the bakery sector.
Much of this equipment is designed to last many years by using sturdy, reusable plastic as part of the ‘circular economy’ but more often than not, it is diverted out of the supply chain, either through theft, left abandoned or shredded for sale back to the plastics manufacturing industry by unscrupulous recycling operations.
More education is needed
While the survey found that 61% of respondents were sure that bread baskets and food delivery trays go back to the factories they came from, correctly processed and used again, the bakery equipment firm notes that more often than not this is not the case.
Only 3% of respondents are aware of ‘the dark side’ of plastic recycling, while 9% correctly assume this equipment can also often end up in landfill.
This is where the public steps in to help, says Bakers Basco, noting that if a large amount of abandoned plastic is found in their local area, the majority of respondents say they would take action and report it to their local council. However, 27% are still unsure of the steps to take.
When it comes to who should take responsibility for tackling unnecessary recycling – that is, the recycling of products designed to be used multiple times rather than being disposed of after a single use – respondents say producers themselves (58%), local councils (56%) and the government (46%) need to step up their efforts.
Very real problem
“There is a very real problem in the UK regarding the unnecessary recycling of plastic that is designed to be used over and over again,” said Paul Empson, GM of Bakers Basco.
“Millions of these baskets and other food delivery equipment go missing every year presenting a growing problem for the UK’s transport and logistics industries, and the unethical recycling of stolen plastic items that don’t need to be recycled.”
He adds, “We all have a responsibility to play our part in this - local councils, the government, businesses, recycling companies and individuals themselves - but it requires a collaborative effort by all parties to help tackle the problem.”
The online YouGov survey was undertaken in early March among 2,106 UK adults.
Bakers Basco – set in 2006 by Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Frank Roberts & Sons, Hovis and Warburtons – represents more than 55% of the bakery market in the UK. The company currently manages an equipment pool of approximately four million reusable Omega Baskets and 500,000 dollies, which are part of the ‘circular economy’ – that is, designed to last many years, with each piece of kit recycled potentially 400 times and the resulting raw plastic used to make more baskets before it reaches the end of its useful life.