So here it is – my first “in the news” post where I summarise the key events that took place over the last month relating to sustainability.
And what an exciting month January was! It seemed that everyone wanted to start the new year afresh with governments, businesses and individuals declaring renewed ambitions towards a more sustainable future.
Perhaps we have David Attenborough to thank who, in the wake of Blue Planet, seems to have incentivised the UK to more seriously consider the environmental impact of their everyday lives – particularly when it comes to plastic waste.
1. Iceland commits to eliminate plastic packaging by 2023
One of the headlines that impressed (and surprised) me the most was Iceland’s commitment to eliminate all plastic packaging from its own brand products in the next 5 years.
Instead of plastic, Iceland will use sustainable cardboard from carefully managed forests in Sweden where 4 trees are planted for every 1 tree that is cut. Instead of ending up as landfill (or littering our oceans) like much plastic waste, this packaging will instead be fully recyclable.
The major UK retailer hopes that its pledge will contribute to reducing some of the 8 million tonnes of plastic waste that ends up in the sea each year.
2. Consumers mock M&S and Sainsbury’s for unnecessary plastic packaging
Consumers took to social media to mock both Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s for their over-packaging of basic products, namely their plastic wrapped “cauliflower steaks” and “organic coconuts.”
Words such as “ridiculousness”, “pointless plastics” and “environmental vandalism” were swiftly strewn across twitter as outrage seemed to sweep the nation.
Whilst Marks & Spencer quickly chose to withdraw their cauliflower steaks, Sainsbury’s interestingly stood by their decision to continue stocking the organic coconuts despite guidelines that organic food must “strive to avoid all unnecessary packaging.”
3. Theresa May unveils 25-year environmental plan
Theresa May launched a rather ambitious plan to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste in the next 25 years.
To help meet this target, the Prime Minister pledged to extend the 5p plastic bag charge to all retailers in England (a charge that currently only applies to retailers with 250 or more employees and has removed 9 billion plastic bags from circulation since 2015). The government also intends to introduce plastic free aisles in supermarkets.
Although many people lauded the plan, others were sceptical by the sheer scale of the ambitious plan – we will have to wait and see what 2042 brings!