Author Archives: Libby Peake

Here’s what Theresa May should now do to end plastic pollution

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After years of waiting, we finally have it: this morning, Theresa May launched her government’s 25 year plan for the environment. By far the most talked about aspect of the long awaited and wide ranging strategy is the prime minister’s promise to “demonstrate global leadership” by addressing needlessly produced plastic. This will be achieved, she vowed, through action “at every stage of the production and consumption of plastic”. Bold words indeed.

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Let’s banish the ghosts of the past and do better on waste in future

'Scrooge_and_the_Ghost_of_Marley'_by_Arthur_RackhamNearly 175 years ago, Charles Dickens ‘invented’ the modern holiday of Christmas through A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from miser to the embodiment of festive generosity. The story has been credited with cementing in place many of the traditions we continue to observe to this day, including holding a family feast of seasonal food and drink. Read more

How much do we care about owning the products we use?

lotRecent research has shown that the number of people who own their own homes is at a 30 year low and, with growing anxiety about young people being unable to get on the property ladder, the government has started to act. In the budget, Philip Hammond aimed to revive “the dream of home ownership” by abolishing the stamp duty for homes up to £300,000, designed to appeal to the group increasingly known as ‘generation rent’.

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Why Michael Gove should be worried about the UK’s recycling crisis

plastic-bottles-115082_1280Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Red Dragon, Liberty Shield, National Sword and Green Quest. They all sound like the names given to military interventions of recent years. And, in fact, they all are, apart from one, which is a Chinese government programme aiming to improve the quality of recycling. And, no, it’s not Green Quest (a short lived American operation investigating terrorist financing sources). Rather, the programme seeking to prevent imports of poor quality recyclates is National Sword, a surprisingly aggressive title for such an environmentally beneficial endeavour.

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Let’s not be losers when it comes to resources

Backstreet BritainThis article was originally published on Business Green.

It’s been more than six months since the prime minister triggered Article 50, what’s commonly referred to as “the starting gun” for our departure from the EU. If you imagine Brexit as a race, then, that means that we’re over a quarter of the way through the process that will, in theory, conclude on 30 March 2019 at the latest. At that time, EU treaties – all 750+ of them – and the various laws and regulations that have accumulated over the past 40 odd years – including more than 1,100 pieces of environmental law – will cease to apply here.

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How green is Sadiq Khan’s new London environment strategy?

London Highgate Hampstead ParkAccording to the RSA, we are living in The Age of the City, where urban areas “are increasingly powerful in national and global politics and are driving economic growth”. In the UK, urban political power has historically been limited, but the rise of directly elected mayors has given strategic powers over wide areas to local politicians, not least in the realm of the environment. Read more

Five simple solutions to Michael Gove’s plastic problem

8598451066_9623d447a0_bThe scale of plastic pollution plaguing our oceans is alarming. Eight million tonnes of the stuff is being lost to the sea each year. At least 136 species of marine life are affected by plastic entanglement, and many more still – at least 250 species – ingest plastic pieces that can be a million times more toxic than the water around them. We are one of those species, with European shellfish consumers ingesting around 11,000 bits of microplastic every year. Read more

Why the UK could soon face recycling chaos

9941576975_eabcc2a873_kIn 2013, China sent shock waves through the recycling world in the west by launching Operation Green Fence, a campaign that rejected at least 800,000 tonnes of substandard recyclable waste imports and withdrew 247 import licenses. This focused minds in the UK, because we have grown dependent on exports of low quality recyclate, which our producer responsibility system accidentally encourages. Unfortunately, no lasting action was taken to fix the problem, and now things look set to get much worse. Read more

The world unites as Trump pulls out of Paris

Eiffel Tower in Paris, FranceFollowing Donald Trump’s announcement to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Green Alliance is publishing a series of blog posts from different voices in response.

On the morning of 12 December 2015, I found myself cycling around Paris, not really knowing where I was going but definitely glad to be part of something that felt momentous. As part of the Climate Kilometre group, 53 cyclists from 13 nations had made the three day, 320 kilometre journey from London to the French capital. Our intention, in coming to Paris, was to take part in a demonstration marking the conclusion of the COP21 negotiations, which were aiming to achieve “a legally binding and universal agreement on climate” for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations. Read more

Why hasn’t the sharing revolution taken off?

2016 Library of Things Launch-22Perhaps the favourite statistic of those advocating for more sharing in our economy is that the average power drill is used for only 12 or 13 minutes over the entire course of its lifetime. This is especially significant as millions of new household power drills are sold in the UK each year, and then simply gather dust in sheds up and down the country. To people thinking about better use of resources, it seems like there’s an obvious problem here, as well as an obvious solution: a nation stockpiling power tools that are hardly ever used ought to share them more. Read more