On November 29th I was invited to join Liz Bonnin, BBC environmental documentarist, to talk at the Royal Geographic Society on how we as a Planet are ‘drowning in plastics’ a documentary originally produced by the BBC in September. The panel discussion included Richard Thompson, Marine Biologist, Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastics Planet and Research, Stephanie Wright from Kings College London.
Liz opened the event illustrating how plastics have entered every part of our lives, from oceans to small villages in Indonesia.
For those of us who’ve worked in or with the waste industry for a while, it certainly feels like times are changing. A public obsession with single use plastics, rallying cries for better food waste segregation and management, and the emergence of the new agenda in town: the circular economy.
So what does this mean for the oft maligned waste management contractor? How does its role need to adapt and evolve to respond to the progressively more outspoken ethical consumers?
No, this is not an article about ninja warriors but about how Chinese policies on waste have impacted recycling and waste management in the UK (and elsewhere).
A bit of history...
World Environment Day (WED) is an event that has been running since 1974 and is regarded as the ‘UN's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment’. Each year the event has a host country and a theme. This year’s theme was unsurprisingly, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and giving up single-use plastics; hosted in India.
Giving up single-use plastics is amicable, but it's a polluted drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things...
But what about beyond Earth Day...?