News & Events

From Landfill to Ocean – Finding Solutions Beyond Recycling

Jun 28, 2023

Whether it’s wrapped around our lunchtime sandwich or part of our morning skincare routine, our lives are saturated in plastic. With it unavoidably surrounding every aspect of our lives, there is no surprise that plastic has now been found in the furthest-flung parts of the planet. From the bottom of the Mariana Trench to the top of Mount Everest, microplastics are taking over the globe; so how do we tackle our plastic pollution problem?

In most countries, we are taught from a young age about the importance of recycling. On the surface, recycling seems a good way to reduce the need for landfill, and the need for extracting, refining, and processing raw materials. But, what if recycling isn’t all that it seems? 

“Plastic” as a whole refers to a myriad of synthetic chemical substances that can be moulded and shaped into a massive variety of useful items. In certain combinations, these substances can be combined to create materials that are resistant to water, heat, and even acid. It is because of this versatility that plastic, in its many forms, is used across so many industries and professions. However, the chemicals combined to make plastics can often be harmful, to both humans and the environment. The chemicals that we are most commonly in contact with are Bisphenols, which are often found in food and beverage containers, water bottles, medical and sports equipment, and thermal paper receipts. Studies have shown that when in landfill, these chemicals can seep from the plastic into the soil and waterways in the surrounding area, causing harm to wildlife, crops, and livestock. Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been classified as a substance of great concern by the European Union, has been shown to be toxic through numerous chemical studies. In theory, recycling should keep plastic and its chemicals out of the ground and away from wildlife; so you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the solution. 

It may surprise you to know that only around 9% of plastic that is made, actually gets recycled. This means that the other 91% ends up either in landfill, incinerated, polluting the environment, or exported to other countries for disposal. For that 9% to be recycled, the existing plastic will have to be melted down and turned back into the oil in which it was originally made. It is then remoulded and turned into the next phase of its life. However, plastic is porous and over time can often absorb substances it comes in contact with.

We have all seen the Tupperware that is stained with a red tinge after storing a portion of spaghetti bolognese; but when plastic contains stronger chemicals, such as household cleaning products, this absorption becomes even more dangerous. The chemicals used to create the plastic merge with the chemicals it absorbed, creating combinations that can have serious adverse effects on humans, wildlife and the environment. Now, add in the recycling process. When the plastics are heated to be melted down, it not only heats the original chemicals and the absorbed chemicals but also generates completely new toxic chemicals; blending three different combinations of toxins which then make their way into recycled plastic items.

We are by no means telling you to stop recycling. Some plastic waste cannot be avoided. Recycling can play a role in addressing the plastic crisis, but regulations are needed to ensure the use of recycled plastic in low-risk applications. Collaboration between scientists, industry, governments, and consumers is necessary to tackle the plastic problem effectively. However, there are small steps you can take to ensure that you do not unnecessarily contribute to our global plastic problem: reduce, reuse, and recycle. As the three R’s suggest, recycling should be the last resort when it comes to dealing with plastic waste. In fact, the best thing you can do is reduce your consumption as much as possible. In recent years there has been a huge shift within the yachting industry towards making environmentally conscious changes. With the introduction of things like biofuels and many carbon-offsetting initiatives, superyacht owners and crews are beginning to take sustainability seriously. 

At Octo Marine, we couldn’t be happier about this change. Over the past 20 years, we have been working with the yachting industry to install state-of-the-art onboard water treatment systems. The installation of these systems allows superyachts to provide safe consumable water onboard for all their guests and crew, minimising the need for bottled water. Alongside our treatment systems, we also install water makers. Bringing desalination onboard allows superyachts to utilise the abundance of salt water, and turn it into safe drinkable water. Additionally, we launched our ‘Think Outside the Bottle Campaign’, an initiative to help break the yachting industry away from single-use plastic. Our campaign encourages crew members to ditch plastic bottles by offering them one of our bespoke reusable aluminium bottles. Our bottles are built to last and be used time and time again, with the robust design allowing the crew to use them anywhere. Not only does this minimise the use of disposable plastic on board, but it also keeps your crew safe from the harmful chemicals that are used to make plastic bottles.

In an effort to spread our sustainability message far and wide, we recently became the sustainability sponsor for the MYBA charter show 2023, back in April. We set up drinking stations around the show to provide fresh accessible water for all in attendance. We offered a free Octo Marine reusable aluminium water bottle to all who came to our stations. With each station providing outstanding quality ambient, chilled, and sparkling water to ensure that everyone’s thirst was quenched. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Octo Marine, and the ways in which we can support your movement towards more sustainable practices, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Our team of experts boast over 30 years of experience in marine-based water treatment, allowing us to provide a seamless and professional service.

Don’t forget to tag us on social media with any photos of your ‘Think Outside the Bottle’ reusable bottles! Our favourites may just get a repost and a shout-out from our social team.

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