The UK's Litter Army

How to reduce PPE litter

Reduce PPE Litter
We all know that litter was a problem before the pandemic. No one imagined that the disposable PPE designed to keep us safe would make it so much worse. How many discarded face masks or pairs of gloves have you seen out on your walks? With billions of face masks and gloves used globally every month and social distancing still needed. PPE litter remains a growing and serious problem. It’s a health risk, it’s polluting our beaches and waterways, and harming wildlife. So how do you reduce PPE litter?

Wilko's disposable face mask recycling scheme

A new campaign being launched by the retailer Wilko is bringing some hope that the situation can be brought under control. It has launched a disposable face mask recycling scheme in 150 of its stores across England. Customers will be able to safely dispose of their used masks in collection bins at the front of the stores. Aiming to reduce PPE litter.

Wilko has teamed up with the recycling company ReWorked and recycling technology firm Scan2Recycle to launch the scheme, named #ReclaimTheMask. The main material used to make the face masks are polypropylene, which is sent to ReWorked for processing. Because of the health risks, the masks are held in quarantine for 72 hours. Then they are washed and shredded into tiny pieces and mixed with other waste plastic. 

The plastic mixture is then heated to over 200°C and pressed into boards, which are turned into building materials, furniture and wheelie bins. The campaign is being launched on April 1st and it will run for three months. You can find out where your nearest participating Wilko store is here

What else can you do to reduce the PPE litter problem?

Reduce PPE litter, use a bin!

Don’t put your mask in the recycling bin. Instead, double bag it, then after 72 hours, it’s safe to put in your bin. 

Make your own reusable mask 

Disposable face masks create a lot of waste because they are single-use. Using a reusable mask is better for the environment. If you’re crafty, you can have fun making something unique. There are some great ‘make your own’ reusable face mask patterns and instructions online. 

Buy some reusable masks 

Many small businesses have suffered during the pandemic. Why not do them a favour and buy your reusable masks from them? There are some great eco-friendly options on sites like Etsy. Where small, independent companies sell masks made from recyclable materials or natural materials like cotton. Many are organic and certified free from harmful chemicals. So they’ll be gentle on your skin as well as good for the planet. This will completely reduce the PPE litter issue.

For more interesting articles and helpful tips, check out our blog.

Zero Waste Challenge for April: Make Your Own Zero Waste Snacks

Zero waste hummus

Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, your thoughts might be turning to picnics in the park or days out at the beach. But before you and your family descend on local beauty spots, you need to do some planning. To keep areas clean, safe, and beautiful for others and to protect wildlife, you need to make sure you don’t leave any rubbish behind. 

As soon as the sun comes out, it might be tempting to dash to the supermarket and buy all of your pre-packaged sandwiches, drinks, and snacks, but this adds up to a lot of waste, not to mention, it’s not too kind on your pocket either. 

So your zero waste challenge for April is to take zero waste snacks on all of your outings! 

The problem with shop-bought snacks 

Many shop-bought items are in single-use packaging and multipack items are also often individually wrapped. This means that there’s a lot of plastic waste that will potentially end up in the environment. So what’s the solution? Well, you could make your own snacks. 

When you make your own snacks, you have the benefit of knowing exactly what’s in them too, rather than relying on shop-bought items that are laden with fat and sugar. 

Making your own zero waste snacks 

Now before you Google ‘how on earth do I make healthy snacks?’, remember that nature provides us with lots of naturally healthy foods like apples, oranges, and berries, as well as tasty vegetables like carrot sticks which are tasty and nutritious when served with a healthy dip. What’s even better is that things like apple cores and vegetable peelings can be composted too, which will reduce your waste even further. 

Buy your fruit and vegetables at a market rather than the supermarket if you can, and buy seasonal produce that’s sold in the least packaging possible. 

If you do want to make your own snacks for your picnic or day at the seaside, here are some ideas we think you’ll love. 

Make your own popcorn

What you’ll need:

Dried corn kernels

Your choice of things to add taste

How to make it:

Get a large pan with a tight-fitting lid. Heat a little oil in the pan, then add the corn kernels (fill the pan about ¼ of the way up) and cover. The kernels will start to make a popping sound; once they stop popping, it means they’re done, so take the pan off the heat. 

Now it’s time to add whatever you want to your popcorn to make it taste great. You can add icing sugar, salt, honey, butter, or if you really want a treat, dip it in melted chocolate. 

Note: Popcorn goes stale fast, so make sure that it’s freshly made before you head out and eat it soon after. 

Make your own Banana muffins

These taste delicious but they are also quite healthy. Bananas add natural sweetness so there’s no need for too much sugar and wholemeal flour adds fibre which makes you feel fuller for longer. 

What you’ll need:

(recipe makes 6 muffins)

Muffin tin 

125g/4½oz wholemeal flour

3 level tbsp light muscovado sugar

2 level tsp baking powder

1 medium free-range egg, beaten

50g/1¾oz low-fat plain yoghurt

50ml/2fl oz rapeseed oil, plus a little extra for greasing

2 ripe bananas (175g/6oz peeled weight), roughly mashed

How to make them:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas mark 6. Line your muffin tin with muffin cases or grease it.

Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl, beat together the egg, yoghurt, and oil. Make a well in the flour, pour in the liquid and mix well. Stir in the mashed bananas, making sure you don’t overmix. 

Spoon the muffin mixture into the cases and bake for 20–30 minutes. To check if they are cooked through, insert a skewer into the centre. The muffins are ready if the skewer comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

Extra eco brownie point: These muffins freeze really well, so you can make an extra batch and pop them in the freezer for another day. There’s no need to waste any ingredients at all. 

Make your own Hummus

This is great for dipping vegetables and pitta bread in. 

What you’ll need:

200g/7oz canned chickpeas

2 tbsp lemon juice or more

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

pinch salt

1 tbsp tahini paste 

4 tbsp water

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp paprika

How to make it:

Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. 

Put the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, tahini, and water in a food processor, and blend until it becomes a purée.

Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste if needed. 

Best way to pack and store your snacks

Making healthy snacks is great, but you need some zero waste options to store and transport them in. Some great zero waste ideas include:

Mason jars

Beeswax food wraps

Silicon stasher bags

And obviously, don’t forget your reusable cutlery and water bottles!

Fighting Litter Around the UK: Cheltenham Borough Council

Cheltenham is a vibrant regency town with a busy calendar of events and festivals all year round and a population of around 117,000 people. This makes keeping the town tidy a priority, and Cheltenham Borough Council, along with its environmental service provider Ubico, and partners including Gloucestershire Police, the Environment Agency and the DVLA has taken on the fight against problems such as fly-tipping, graffiti, dog fouling, and abandoned vehicles.

Read more

Fighting Litter Around the UK: Bridgend County Borough Council, Wales

Bridgend Council is pretty proactive when it comes to keeping the town tidy. It works with Keep Wales Tidy on littering and fly-tipping campaigns, carries out monthly street cleanliness inspections, supports local projects to promote litter-free zones, supports beach clean-ups, and runs school litter education programmes, and dog fouling campaigns.

Read more