The announcement that the Bank of England is going for plastic notes (subject, apparently, to public consultation – yeah, right) is very depressing. It’s said that these notes will be ‘greener’, take fewer resources to produce. But what do you do with the old, discarded notes? They can’t easily be burned, nor will they decompose, because they’re not a natural material. They will just become yet more plastic rubbish, with us forever.
Plastic, even when it does biodegrade, is a series of unnatural polymers. It has no place in the ecosystem, which has never evolved to deal with it. Even when it’s fairly inert, it’s not like rock – the chemicals that it will inevitably release will have nasty effects. One of the arguments against incinerators is that burning plastic can create horrid dioxins.
But burning it is really the only way to get rid of it. Recycling is only finite – the plastic wears out after a while.
We need to tax products on their disposability – to make plastic, and other harmful materials, expensive to produce. (Taxing water would help, too.)