Plastic recycling is already confusing enough and with an office full of experts even we had to think what to do with a seemingly plastic cup with the code ‘07 PLA’.
07 plastic is in fact made from corn starch and is designed to be compostable, so technically (although your Council collection service is unlikely to accept this) it should be put it in with your green waste where it will go to make compost, and you can still home compost if you have the space.
Putting 07 “plastic” in with your plastic recycling however will compromise the quality of the plastic once it is recycled and could lead to batches of plastic being rejected as contaminated. Once contaminated it is either incinerated or sent to landfill where it will not breakdown, including the 07PLA as the conditions are not correct for it to decompose.
It is undeniable that we have to reduce the amount of plastic we use. There are many studies reporting the alarming amounts of plastic pollution in our environment, especially the sea.
Plastic in the environment breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces and becomes ingested by wildlife. Some of this wildlife we then consume, including the plastic. So you would think that it is commendable that the issue of non-biodegradable plastic is being addressed. However no solution (except waste avoidance) has a zero impact. If all of our plastic was derived from plants, it needs to be grown, which takes up land, land that we should be using to grow food. It also may need to be watered, water that again we should be using to irrigate food or for livestock.
This is why it is vital that we keep our precious plastic resources in circulation by recycling them correctly.