Author Archives: Libby Peake

Let’s stop tinkering with tax and make it a force for environmental and social good

intext-tax-blogThis post was first published on Business Green.

“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So observed Benjamin Franklin in 1789 (and possibly a great many others before him) and it is still accepted as one of life’s unalterable facts. But, while the grim reaper comes for all of us at some point, the situation when it comes to taxes is not so inevitable as the aphorism implies. Read more

Why would England ditch its recycling targets when waste is such a problem?

Back in March 2018, the government won kudos for reversing its opposition to tough recycling targets included in the EU’s Circular Economy Package. “I want the UK to lead the way in driving global resource efficiency and that’s why, as well as backing the EU’s Circular Economy Package, we have committed to publishing a new resources and waste strategy in 2018,” then Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said. Read more

Scandinavians call their waste incineration ‘crazy’, so why copy them?

Last week, Policy Connect released a report, supported by the cross party Sustainable Resource Forum, looking at waste management and the shift to net zero. It contains several assumptions worth challenging (not least the opening statement that half of England’s waste isn’t recyclable, which is internally contradicted by the statement that the country can recycle 60 per cent of its waste by 2030). But I’ll concentrate here on its main recommendation: that England “should move towards a Scandinavian style approach to residual waste”. Read more

A circular economy will protect us against future shocks

Mobile phone recycling: data erasure and new OS installationOver the past few months of upheaval, Covid-19 has succinctly highlighted many shortcomings of what used to pass for the ‘normal’ functioning of economy and society. It’s made many rethink what they value and what they expect the state to value, protect and promote. While it remains unclear what changes will stick and what greater changes are coming down the line, it seems inevitable that the pandemic will permanently alter how we live and how the economy functions. Read more

Will the pandemic mean we finally end the food waste scandal?

Food waste from domestic kitchen Responsible disposal of househoOur highly globalised, just in time food supply chain has come under considerable scrutiny since the coronavirus pandemic pushed the system to its limits. The shock of seeing empty shelves in a modern, wealthy, westernised country has led many to question the resilience of the UK’s food system. We can expect this topic to be debated long after the immediate crisis is over, when we begin to (hopefully) build back better. Read more

Setting the record straight: our view on plastic packaging

Fruit DisplayLast week, on behalf of the Circular Economy Task Force, we published an insight into what the grocery sector is really doing about plastic. The report, Plastic promises, has generated considerable amounts of attention and debate, which is gratifying to see. It is especially heartening that it seems to have (finally) got people talking in earnest about why we need to address more than just plastic use and waste if we want a sustainable packaging system. Read more

Why we need more than plastic promises

intext-plasticThe post was first published on Business Green.

In December 2017, Blue Planet II shocked the world with disturbing images of plastic pollution: albatrosses feeding their chicks plastic bags, plankton mistaking microplastic for food and young dolphins potentially killed by plastic toxins. In the intervening two years, plastic has rarely left the headlines. Read more

We know throwaway culture is bad – so why is the market for bottled water growing?

bottled water small.pngThis blog was first posted on Business Green. 

We all want to do the right thing when it comes to avoiding unnecessary packaging, but when different materials have different impacts, it can be hard to choose what sort of container has the best environmental credentials. This can be as true for retailers and producers – the people putting material on the shelf – as it is for the consumer choosing what to buy. Which are better, for instance, lightweight plastic bottles that damage the marine environment when mismanaged or high carbon but highly recyclable glass bottles? What about relatively low carbon cartons that are difficult to recycle, compared to aluminium cans that create toxic waste in production but can then be recycled over and over again? Read more

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