Author Archives: Libby Peake

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

The next blow to throwaway culture: why we need to lose our thirst for bottled water

refillable smallLast week, in one of her first announcements as Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers was able to share the good news that the country is breaking its single use plastic bag habit. Use of such carrier bags from large supermarkets has dropped by 90 per cent, thanks to the 5p charge brought in by the government in 2015. The precipitous fall, Villiers said, is “a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society”. But are the reports of the death of the throwaway society premature? Read more

How to win the war on plastic – sustainably

landfill smallThe first episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani’s War on Plastic documentary detailed the extent of our use of plastic and the devastating impacts when waste from the west – all too frequently – winds up in uncontrolled dumpsites in places like Malaysia, devastating local communities and environments alike.

This shows the shocking failure of the current system and, unsurprisingly, the audience was alarmed and up in arms following their rallying call to fight a war against plastic. But I detected a worrying trend in the weapon of choice that most viewers instinctively reached for: substitution. Read more

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