21 April, 2018

Beyond Earth Day 2018 and The Plastics Pact: to End Plastic Pollution

Earth Day 2018 and The Plastics Pact: to End Plastic Pollution

Nick Garrod
Written by Nick Garrod
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The world's largest environmental movement. And a good week for plastics? Earth Day (organised by the Earth Day Network) is a global event; it all started in 1970 when millions of people took to the streets to protest about the negative impacts of industrial development and how it was impacting the earth! Earth Day is now a recognised day of political action and civic participation. This year took place on Sunday 22 April, and focused on ending Plastic Pollution.

But what about beyond Earth Day...?

Beyond Earth Day


From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering beaches and landscapes to clogging waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of the planet. Plastics pollution is a major issue and it seems you cannot open a newspaper or turn on the TV without getting bombarded about this.

From David Attenborough to the film Plastic Planet, to campaigns led by actors such as Leonardo di Caprio and Jeremy Irons and the model Bianca Jagger, everyone is denouncing the impact plastics are having upon our lives and our environment.

Plastic bottlesEveryone can make a difference, no matter how small. We can prevent waste by stopping purchasing bottled water and using refillable containers, through to managing plastic and preventing it becoming waste by reusing items, and recycling others, we can all do our bit to make a change.

The starting point needed is often a change in our behaviours and attitude.

UK Plastics Pact


The Plastics Pact was launched 26 April by WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and with around 70 major consumer goods companies signed up to it. Michael Gove MP and Dame Ellen spoke of the urgent need to combat plastic pollution and the minister promised to enable legislation to do this.

WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme)All hailed the collaborative nature of this Pact, a voluntary agreement among the willing. Many of the major waste companies, all the packaging industry associations, and many NGOs were present. It was an impressive call to arms.

There will undoubtedly be positive results from the Pact, which sets itself the target by 2025 to make all plastics recyclable or compostable, with 70% effective recovery, as opposed to the 40+% now.

But it is a voluntary agreement. Whilst WRAP are good at doing these, the debate will always be out on how effective voluntary accords can be.

Will the 20% of the retail industry not in the Pact follow the others? Where's the investment in recycling capacity? Without food waste collections and composting, how are compostable plastics going to fit in? Who will finance all this?

Compostable plastic
  1. Without government intervention it is difficult to obtain a level playing field and financing. Our position is clear: we call for urgent government legislation to:
  2. Ban the use of unnecessary plastics across the supply chain where these can be substituted by other materials.
  3. Introduce full cost accounting to force the plastics industry to pay the real costs of collection and recycling, as the new EU laws envision.
  4. Mandate use of compostable plastics in uses such as caddy liners to ensure clean food waste goes to composting and AD (anaerobic digestion).
  5. Improve waste management and especially street cleansing to reduce plastic littering.
  6. Introduce Deposit Return Schemes for certain mainstream products like PET drink bottles.
  7. Direct overseas aid investments into developing nations' waste management to reduce waste dumping and leaking through rivers into our oceans.

But how do Ditto Sustainability change behaviour?

The Earth Day Network's mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Ditto Sustainability work with organisations to influence individual behaviour change through education; we do this by providing short "What is?" and "how-to" interactive online learning content.