February 2018

Informing the Plastics Debate

Back

Posted in | | | | | by

The issue of marine plastic pollution has been gaining increasing traction in the news and Eunomia has been advising the media on the scale of the problem while recommending policy solutions throughout – here we round-up a snapshot of our influence so far.

Our modellers have been working with the Guardian on their exclusive investigation into how much plastic packaging UK supermarkets put on the market each year. By combining publically available figures with data obtained by journalists we modelled estimates and found that UK supermarkets create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste annually. The Guardian published this news on the 17th of January, it has since spread around the world, with coverage across Asia, Russia, Europe and the US.

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II in December shone a spotlight on the global marine plastic issue and since then much of the media have turned to our research to understand the extent of the problem. Figures from our Single-use Plastics and the Marine Environment research developed for Seas at Risk have been used on a number of occasions to illustrate plastic consumption and measures designed to tackle associated problems.

On the 16th of January, the EU adopted the first ever Europe wide Plastics Strategy, a land-mark publication with a host of recommendations we helped develop. The UK-wide ban on microbeads also came into effect in January, raising questions about what should be done about other micro plastics identified in our Plastics in the Marine Environment infographic.

The UK Government woke up to the plastic pollution problem this month, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove announcing a four-point action plan that we discussed with the BBC. Prime Minister Theresa May also published the long-awaited UK 25 Year Environment Plan and said it would “demonstrate global leadership on plastics”. In reaction to this, our Head of Environment and Economics Chris Sherrington stressed the need to act urgently whilst speaking to news channel TBS Japan.

Other ‘hot topics’ our Chairman Dominic Hogg offered insight into covered:

  • China’s import ban of post-consumer plastics that came into effect on 1st January on BBC World’s Talking Business
  • The Packaging Recovery Note System and its loop holes in Sky Ocean Rescue’s documentary Dirty Business
  • Dominic also questioned why the introduction of a UK Deposit Refund System was still in the balance in The ENDS Report and Materials Recycling World.

The month concluded with the good news that refill stations (in shops, cafes, businesses and at drinking fountains like ours) will be rolled out across England by our partners and friends Refill Bristol and Water UK. Chris Sherrington joined BBC Breakfast and five regional BBC radio stations to explain the environmental benefits behind this concept.

Caroline Campbell Eunomia’s PR and Marketing Manager said:

“It has been a really exciting start to 2018 with many of our specialist areas such as marine plastics and the circular economy entering mainstream conversations. We’re pleased we can share the in-depth research we’ve collated over the years to inform decisions – all our reports, where possible, are available to download for free from our website. We’re looking forward to seeing this growing awareness turn into informed action.”

Photo courtesy of Anna Gregory, plastic-packaged apples (CC-BY-2.0), via www.flickr.com