On 20th February 2011 BBC News reported that the Royal Mail had confirmed that it used a whopping four billion rubber bands in the past five years, costing £5m. That is two million red bands per day!
Keep Britain Tidy are campaigning for the Royal Mail to reduce the amount of rubber bands that are used after receiving around 13,000 discarded bands back in 2009. The charity then gave these back to the Royal Mail, delivering them to their headquarters. Click here to read Keep Britain Tidy’s article on the Royal Mail’s vow to stop the red band litter.
However, the amount of rubber bands used is increasing each year. It is estimated that the amount the Royal Mail spend on bands has increased by 40% in five years.
As well as the bands which are posted through letter boxes, there is also the issue of the bands which do not make it that far, the ones postmen drop on the floor. Royal Mail say that they are teaching their staff the importance of picking these up but maybe we could help by collecting any we find on the floor.
The Royal Mail says the bands are necessary but that the bands are biodegradable.
Businesses in particular are prone to receiving mass amounts of these rubber bands, due to daily post, the majority of which is kept together by the bands.
The question is: What can you do with these rubber bands? Re-use? Recycle?
Here are some of our ideas:
• Make a rubber band ball. Challenge yourself to see how big you can make your ball. This is a fun, light-hearted way to make use of rubber bands.
• Send back to the Royal Mail. Surely if is costing them so much per year to purchase new bands it would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly for them to run a take-back/recycling scheme on old rubber bands?
It is said that the Royal Mail do infact have a rubber band recycling scheme.
You can now send them, free of charge, to: Royal Mail, Rubber Band Recycling Department, Freepost, Tomb Street, Belfast BT1 1AA
The Headquarters address is:
Royal Mail Headquarters
5th Floor, 148 Old Street, LONDON EC1V 9HQ
• Send to Keep Britain Tidy.
• Use them to keep things together e.g. rolled up posters, documents, batteries.
• If you make jams, chutneys, etc at home why not use them over the lid to hold down the cloth.
• Use to open jars. Only one band is usually required for this but it is a way of making use out of them. When jars are difficult to open by hand place a rubber band around the lid and this should give you more grip and make it easier to open.
• Resealing food packets; crisps, rice, biscuits etc.
Back in 2009 the BBC wrote a list of 10 uses for red rubber bands.