A few weeks ago, during Davos, I was catching up with a mate of mine who works abroad in the environmental promotion space. I was telling him that I’d just read that a well know large MNC had just announce plans to use recycled ocean plastics in their packaging. His immediate response was to say that this was “a bit end of pipe” for him.
End of pipe? At first I thought he was being incredibly facetious, however, upon debugging his sentiment I have to agree that he had a very good point. Perhaps expressing this concept in clearer terms, we need to place much more focus on avoiding the build up of plastic waste in the first place. I can’t agree more with that sentiment.
Looking at the global picture we have a massive problem today with ocean plastics (bottles, containers etc.,) micro plastics (much smaller elements) alone. Very sadly, more and more sea life is washing up dead on our beaches every year due to health complications they have suffered as a result of ingesting ridiculous levels of plastic.
While it is positive to think that global players in the materials space are moving towards collecting and removing such substances from our seas and oceans for recycling, it should be incumbent on us all do our bit to stop the plastics from getting into the ocean in the first place.
On a local level another issues now and arrises and that, I gather, relates to tighter regulation in India and China. I understand that these countries, who had been buying up a lot of the world’s recycling waste, are now beginning to employ stricter standards around what they are prepared to accept and so a lot of waste is now being rejected and returned.
Ireland have recently published guidelines on what can and cannot be accepted for recycling and these can be found here. As you can see this list appears to exclude a rather significant amount of the softer plastics that most of use encounter on a day to day basis. I find this particularly worrying as this is exactly the type of rubbish that is virtually impossible to reuse and that can most easily blow away and end up in our green spaces and waterways.
In the absence of having the power to impact this issue on a global scale I have decided to at least share my top three tips for reducing waste on a personal level. I will also include practical examples of how to action these goals:
Goal 1: Avoid buying foods and products that have unnecessary packaging
Action: Find grocers that use paper rather than plastic to wrap up your meat, vegetables and cereals
Goal 2: Avoid buying takeaway foodstuffs that are served in plastic or metal containers
Action A: Identify food vendors that wrap food in paper instead. Specifically look for paper that can be composted as some paper food containers are lined with plastics and can’t be recycled unless they are properly cleaned if at all.
Action B: If you’re having a pastry in a cafe take it on a napkin rather that in a paper bag as the paper napkin can be more easily recycled by composting it.
Goal 3: Avoid using disposable batteries
Action: I’m pretty good at this but it is expensive. I recently paid almost three times the price of standard radio microphones so that I could own devices that were operated by rechargeable batteries instead. I’m now aiming to design a solution to negate the need to use disposable batteries with my audio recorder
I’m convinced that we can all have a positive impact on this issue if you do our bit globally and would like to encourage you guys to get involved by actively pursuing ways to reduce waste too. Do please also share your top tips on how to reduce waste with your own respective networks! Please do get in touch with me directly here if you have any other thoughts or ideas that you’d like to share with me on this subject!