It’s going to be increasingly apparent over coming decades that society has an insurmountable problem with food. The planet will be holding more people than ever. More people require more urban land use to hold them in. And, they will all want to eat.
As much as many of us would like to kick the habit, the simple truth is that the UK, like much of the world, is hooked on plastic. According to a recent report commissioned by retail app Ubamarket, we are now sending 114,000 tonnes of the stuff to landfill each year. However, 82% of the 2000 respondents surveyed said that they believe plastic packaging on food and drink products to be excessive, and 77% feel that as much as they want to change their on behaviour, they feel that manufacturers and supermarkets are simply not doing enough to combat plastic waste.
Earlier in May, the annual Circular Change conference took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It celebrated many successes, with many speakers taking an upbeat view of the future. However, this view comes at a price: it was noted that the global environment continues to deteriorate, and for the world at large, a truly circular economy is still very much a pipe dream.
I have been invited in my capacity as an Advisor at Ditto Sustainability to talk in their sponsored session at Edie Live on May 22nd 2019 about sustainability in business. This has led me to refresh myself on how businesses are facing the challenges we know we have globally; climate change, plastics pollution, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and so on While we are all now starting to understand that these are huge challenges, I remain optimistic. Mankind has the technologies, the money and the political frameworks to make those changes happen. That being said, can we turn the ship fast enough?
The consultations published last December by DEFRA and the Treasury have a deadline for submissions of May 12th and 13th. They concern how England should manage its waste collections and treatment; how the UK should manage its packaging waste; and how the UK should tax plastics. Within the scope of the consultations on packaging waste, the Government is consulting on two questions- how to make the producers pay for all the costs of managing the waste they create (known as Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR). In the UK our EPR system only covers approximately 10% of the cost of managing the waste of items put on the market, leaving the other 90% of the costs falling on our Local Authorities. This is very different from the ‘Green Dot’ system adopted across Europe that covers full costs. The other question being asked is whether and how to introduce a deposit-return scheme (DRS) for drink containers (bottles and cans) to reduce littering and increase recycling.
Sustainability: 'the quality of causing little or no damage and therefore able to continue for a long time.'
When I was growing up, beyond the year 2000 was the realm of flying cars and imagination stretching technology. As a child, our future eclipsed the past as the greatest time to date. Yet as science progressed and developed a data-driven prediction of the future, we came to realise that our generation’s direction came at a cost. Slowly, that cost amplified on our radar, we noticed interconnections and knock-on effects. Animals that had been in existence for millions of years became extinct, rainforests were levelled and chlorine releasing CFCs literally digested our atmosphere. The next generations reality is very different. When looking forward to 2100 and beyond the very real, data derived prediction is that Earth may not be habitable at all.