Posts tagged "film"

Plastic-free and aerosol-free cleaning – how do you do it?

This week, we’ve had a vaguely spring cleaning inspired week here on Recycle This and looked at a few cleaning related questions – so far, reusing/recycling bleach bottles, making homemade dishcloths/pot scrubbers, and reusing/recycling air fresheners. Today though, I’d like to hear your tips and suggestions for reducing waste from cleaning – for going plastic-free and aerosol-free.

Plastics seem to be a core part of modern cleaning products now – from the cleaning solution bottles to the sponges, the film the sponges are wrapped in, many mop buckets and dustpans and brush sets. The latter things may last a while but the former are likely to end up in the bin very soon. Some bottles can be recycled but the sponges and any film-type packaging can’t be. Even more traditional eco-friendly cleaning solutions such as vinegar often come in plastic bottles these days (or at least they do if you bulk buy them).

Similarly, plastic pump-action spray bottles have replaced some cleaning product aerosols but they’re still very common for polishes & foaming sprays (such as oven cleaner) — and aerosol recycling is not exactly common. (They can be recycled and some areas do collect them kerbside, but most don’t.)

Have you made any efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated due to cleaning? Have you swap to different products to reduce plastic packaging waste? We’ve talked about making dishcloths/scrubbers – but any other suggestions for reducing the use of plastic sponges?

And what about aerosols? Have you got any advice for moving away from them?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic biscuit wrapping?

I am a fan of biscuits (aka cookies). I have written of my love of biscuits. I am eating a biscuit while writing this. I do try to make my own biscuits but we eat store-bought ones too – and that obviously means packaging waste.

My favourite shop-bought ones are McVitie’s dark choc digestives so I contacted United Biscuits (who make McVities and a number of other brands) recently about their film-y packaging. They got back to me immediately – which is great compared to most companies – but the news isn’t particular good:

“Packs are made from polypropylene, which is not biodegradable. However, it is recyclable, although I am advised that whilst there are facilities to accommodate this elsewhere, there are currently none in the UK. We are working with the government agencies to try and develop suitable collection in the UK.

Having said that, a lot of work is currently taking place in the packaging community to develop films from sustainable bio sources such as corn. Development of these films may result in biodegradable and compostable films suitable for packaging our products.

The silver layer present in some of our packaging, is a microscopic layer of aluminium used as a barrier to prevent the migration of oxygen into the pack. This increases the shelf life of the product from several days to several months.

We use many hundreds of tonnes of film every year and are very concerned not only by the environment but also by the fact that plastics are derived from a non-renewable resource, crude oil.

Our packaging experts are working with the country’s leading producers to find replacements that are safe, cost effective and environmentally friendly as far as possible.”


So they say it can’t be recycled – what are the other options? Aside from making more at home, I’m careful to bulk buy possible (keeping the excess air-tight to avoid spoilage) but not buy their multipacks, which are the regular packs in an additional plastic pack.

Are there any reuses for polypropylene film? Anyone know of any other recycling avenues to explore?

How can I reuse or recycle film bread bags?

We’ve had an email from Sara:

Hi. I saw everyone’s great ideas about bread bags the other week but we don’t get sliced bread, we get baguettes and the stuff baked in the shop which come in film rather than plastic bread bags. Can that be recycled too?

Ooh, good question. I’m not 100% sure what type of plastic that is – I’ve sent emails to a couple of supermarkets to see if they know so can advise further. It’s maybe cellophane – and if it is, it’s biodegradable. Anyone know?

As for reuses though, it’s not as smooth and, for what of a better word, floppy as the LDPE/number 4 plastic used for pre-packed bread – but because of that, it would be better to use as a lightweight packaging material (it would scrunch, not crush flat). It’s not as pretty as the plastic wrap used on bouquets but there might be some overlap in the reuses.

Any other suggestions?