PLASTIC bags wrapped around sea turtles, whales found with stomachs full of plastic wrapping and beaches clogged with plastic straws.

The distressing images of plastic-filled oceans broadcast by the BBC’s Blue Planet II have made a lasting impression on the Bolton public.

Mary Naylor reports.

PLASTIC in the seas was at the forefront of Bolton people’s minds when asked about their concerns about the waste they produce.

However, people differed on how much they were actually willing to change their lifestyle to help the problem.

“I make my own bags out of scrap fabric,” revealed Winifred Carolane, 67, a keen sewer who makes her own shopping bags that fold up into a little pocket on their side.

She said: “We try to buy products fresh like at the market and use my own bags.”

Mrs Carolane, a lifelong Bolton resident, explained she was always “mindful” of what she was buying and called the state of the oceans “disgusting”.

She said: “I’m mindful of re-using things. The amount of stuff that must be piled up that could be re-used.

“I even recycle furniture.”

Lynne Baines, 38, a mum from Johnson Fold was similarly keen on doing her bit.

She said: “I am concerned about plastic waste. It’s the seas.

“I get recyclable nappies and recyclable wipes.”

She explained she had also swapped out anti-bacterial wipes in favour of re-usable cloths and dusters for cleaning her home, “I can just rewash them”.

When shopping Ms Baines uses paper bags and gets her produce from the market where there are fewer plastic bags and wrappers.

However, not everyone felt as able to make changes to reduce the amount of plastic they were throwing away.

Olivia Wilson, 32, said her family of three had had to purchase a second bin in order to cope with the amount of rubbish they were producing.

She said: “I think it’s the stores that have got so much plastic in them.”

However she acknowledged she had not made any lifestyle changes to try to reduce her plastic use.

A couple in their 80s who did not wish to be named bemoaned the increase in plastic. They said: “We never used to get cucumbers rapped in plastic. Why does everything have to be in plastic?”

They both remembered going to the shops with their own bags, having potatoes and butter weighed out in portions for them to buy with not a plastic bag or cling film in sight.

They made the point that plastic wraps are about convenience as more and more people enter the workplace. One said: “Can you see people taking their own bags and weighing potatoes when they work full time? Women didn’t work, they stayed at home, we had all the time in the world to shop.

“Today, by the time my daughter gets home from work it’s 6pm, is she going to be bothered with it?”

Everyone The Bolton News spoke to said they recycled but a few mentioned finding it difficult to know what gets recycled in what bin (see below for more).

In the past two years Bolton Council has collected 2,503.84 tonnes of plastic bottles to be recycled.

These are dealt with by a regional Greater Manchester waste and recycling team.

Mixed recycling, the burgundy bin, things like soda and shampoo bottles, aerosol cans and jam jars are taken and sorted and separated.

Plastic is cleaned and chopped, melted and turned into pellets. These are then used to make all sorts of items like children’s toys, garden furniture and car bumpers.

However plenty of plastics exist that are not recycled or difficult to recycle for consumers. Shoppers buying fruits or meat in black plastic tray beware, black plastic is one of the worst offenders.

Since the plastic bag charge came in 2015 supermarkets and other brands have been making more noise about recycling and showing off their green credentials.

Morrisons has its own black plastic commitment and has pledged to get rid of it by the end of this year.

It also allows customers to bring their own containers to its Morrisons Market Street Butcher and Fishmonger counters, cutting down on plastic packaging.

Those who pop into Marks & Spencer for their lunches will have noticed the brand has done away with plastic knives and forks in favour of FSC certified wood, it is also changing to paper straws.

Marks & Spencer has committed to make all its plastic packaging easy to recycle by 2022.

Just this week Aldi announced it was trialling paper bags in its Greater Manchester stores, including nine in Bolton.

But smaller brands are making strides too. One Bolton business determined to make a change is Oliver Kay Produce, a wholesale greengrocers, which has binned polystyrene trays in favour of completely compostable Bagass Trays made from sugarcane by Preston-based Thompson Packaging.

It has also made the move to 100 per cent recyclable plastic wrap.

The company used to use plastic netting for foods like lemons and oranges but found a woven wood fibre alternative which is fully compostable.

Paul Leyland, commercial & sustainability director for the company, said: “Roughly four years ago we introduced Oliver Kay branded plastic bags for packing customer orders. These bags have an additive in them, making them biodegradable.

“As a business we have also been separating out cardboard waste for a few years, with our cardboard compactor becoming operational two years ago.

“When it comes to food waste, we have been supporting local charities and organisations for a few years. Our aim has always been to minimise our waste, and re-use or recycle any that we do have.”

It is not just as simple as switching suppliers when running a small business though. Simon Taylor who owns the family-run Tiffany’s In The Square, Victoria Square, is keen to do more, but finds the cost prohibitive.

Mr Taylor said: “We do recycle, we have our bins with Fresh Start Waste and we always separate cardboard.”

Tiffany’s is looking into selling milkshakes and straws were a concern, said Mr Taylor. He said: “That’s what we’re looking into. We’re looking into the paper straws and I think it’s a good thing. But for a small business the cost of it is significantly higher.

“If I go to cash and carry I can get 100 straws for say £1.49 but 50 paper straws are £3.

“I find it unfair. You want to make that effort and help towards recycling and the pollution but it’s not cost effective sometimes.”

He did say however he was always pleased to hear his suppliers were making changes, he pointed toWalls ice cream, whose parent brand Unilever has committed to re-usable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging.