It is nearly ten years since my book The secret life of stuff was published. Those ten years have seen some big changes to the planetary agenda, and the book might have had an even warmer reception had it been published now. But there are aspects of what I was trying to illuminate a decade ago that are strangely still under the radar. Read more
Category Archives: Circular economy
Last 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
The 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
This 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
Last 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
As someone who’s spent more than a decade commenting on the UK’s approach to resources and waste, I’ve often felt at least a bit of frustration and occasionally even substantial dismay with it. Read more
Environmentalists have long grappled with problems of ‘climate fatigue’ and the paralysis that can result from the threat of impending disaster, especially if that disaster is approaching slowly, “like a tidal wave of treacle”, as I’ve heard it described. Read more
“As petroleum came to the relief of the whale,” said an 1878 promotional pamphlet for the world’s first industrial plastic, “so has celluloid given the elephant, the tortoise, and the coral insect a respite in their native haunts, and it will no longer be necessary to ransack the earth in pursuit of substances which are constantly growing scarcer.” Read more
UK recycling has a problem. Over the years, we have become reliant on the Chinese market to take our low quality recycling. But China doesn’t want our waste anymore. In fact, it says it no longer wants any “foreign garbage”, as shipments of low quality material from countries like the UK have “polluted China’s environment seriously.” Read more
Hatred is quite a strong emotion to feel for inanimate evidence notes intended to show that a company has paid towards recycling its packaging, but bear with me and I’ll explain what’s got me so wound up.