Plastic controls being introduced from 2020
From April 2020, some single use plastics are being restricted in the UK. Straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds are amongst the items being targeted, although the picture isn’t as clear as an outright ban.
Disability groups had expressed concern about banning plastic straws, pointing to how some people risk dehydration if straws are not available. Their arguments have proven persuasive, so while plastic straws will vanish from supermarkets and display, consumers will still be able to buy them online or request them at restaurants.
The measure has been criticised by environmental groups as not going far enough, while the EU is considering an outright ban on single use plastics.
If you are still supplying plastic straws, finding sustainable alternatives should be on your radar.
Non-Profits can apply for grants to plant urban trees
The UK has announced a plan to plant over 130,000 new trees in the English urban environment. The plan is specifically targeting urban areas to help reduce noise, pollution and improve mental health and wellbeing. Non-profit organisations can apply through the Forestry commission for grants that cover the initial planting and first three years of care.
BP protest shows companies still at risk from activism
A planned week-long protest at the BP headquarters in London came to a premature end after a few hours. Protesters used concrete blocks with space and food for two people to live in for a week to block access to the building. However, it all came to an end within a few hours after police arrested the occupants and restored access.
As an oil & gas company, it is inevitable BP will be targeted, just as Shell was a few weeks ago at the Extinction Rebellion protests.
It may be inevitable that real-world protests are becoming increasingly extreme. Hactivism, where hackers target companies in protest, has been on the decline. While attacks continue, their effectiveness has been declining rapidly from their 2014 highs.
Presidential candidate Inslee sees a green future for the US, with a massive economic boost
As the race to find out which Democrat will face off against Trump hots up, the latest candidate with a “green plan” has come forward. Jay Inslee has outlines a comprehensive plan that will invest $300 billion a year in new jobs, renewable energy and support for regulatory changes. It includes making sure all new buildings and vehicles are carbon pollution free by 2030 and the country runs on net-zero carbon power by 2035.
It’s an ambitious plan and one that’s won plaudits for its boldness. If Inslee is successful and gets to put it into action, the US could be a hotbed of green activity over the coming decade.
£6.5M of circular economy funding available to Welsh manufacturers
Manufacturers in Wales could tap into a small fund designed to help grow the circular economy. It’s part of an initiative to recycle 70 per cent of its waste by 2025.
We’ll be putting together a worksheet on grants and funds available over the next few weeks.
How oil rigs became new homes for sealife
As oil platforms end their lives, a debate has started about what to do with them. Should they be pulled from the sea floor, or left as marine habitats?
Over their lifetime, the rigs have become an integral part of the marine habitat, even attracting corals. Lifting them might unsettle these new homes, causing damage to the local aquaculture.
It raises interesting questions for companies whose infrastructure might be temporary or have a limited lifespan. Should it be cleared away at the end of its useful life, or allowed to be absorbed into an environment that might already be living there.
Could PDK be the plastic we recycle forever?
A new type of plastic has been developed that could be recycled repeatedly, offering a potential boost to the “circular economy”. Most current plastics can’t be recycled effectively as they contain a cocktail of chemicals that intermingle and undermine the quality of the resulting materials. The problem is made worse by recycling plants being unable to distinguish different types of materials, so often what’s produced is too low grade to be reused for its original purpose.
The new material gets round this by being designed from the molecular level for recycling. PDK, as it’s being dubbed, requires a simple acid bath to scrub away the additives from the underlying polymer, which can then be recycled to produce a material with the same molecular composition as the source. This means it can be recycled over again.
PDK is the creation of a team at Berkeley. If it proves successful and scalable, it means we could have a plastic that would give packaging the performance of current, non-recyclable types, and be fully recyclable at the end of its use.
Incorporating PDK into the circular economy would require some changes to our recycling practices. Aside from investment in plant, a way of clearly identifying is and separating it during collection would be needed so it could be recycled correctly. If this doesn’t happen, it’ll be just another plastic that ends up in landfill.
Image by Marco Verch. Used under a creative commons licence