Inspired by Tomorrow – Lets make a Pearl Necklace Together.

Thank you to all of you who made it to our showing of the film ‘Tomorrow’.  It was a great success, the film was indeed upbeat and inspiring.  As a small local initiative it left us feeling that all local initiatives like ours, grass routes, doing what we can, not giving up, encouraging and supporting each other is where it is at!  What ever the leadership i.e government is doing or not doing about our precious beautiful planet we step into our power as global and local citizens and just get on with changing things in the way we know how.   Always starting with what is obvious and easy, and mainly and most importantly acting together as a community.  It is very embarrassing for big companies and indeed the government when householders take action because it exposes the problem in simple and stark ways.

I had the honour of meeting a dialysis nurse on Saturday, and we got chatting about  plastic and waste as you do, she explained that for each patient she sees each day at least one large plastic container is needed and is only used once.  These are she has been told not recyclable due to the fluids they contain, however the fluids they contain are not in any way contaminants indeed they are no worse than milk and so the hospital bins fill up with these large plastic barrels.   She and I had the idea of her dialysis unit getting together with lots of other units and washing and collecting these plastic barrels, and stringing them together to make a giant pearl necklace, each one could be sponsored to raise funds for dialysis treatment and the final article could be delivered to parliament to ask whey they can’t be recycled.

We plan to show the film again as it was such a joy to watch and it was clear that many more people would love the opportunity to see it.

I signed up to a petition to parliament to ”Ban all non-recyclable/non-compostable packaging in the UK”

It seems like such a simple request and the response below goes into some detail to give a picture of the complexities and barriers as seen perceived by the government, however what it says several times over is that,  and I quote is ‘It is ultimately for businesses to decide what packaging materials they use to supply products to customers.’ – this statement I think clearly states the lack of political will to take action.  Therefore what we do as householders is fundamentally important and maybe our pearl necklace of dialysis barrels, or our 300 tons of yogurt pots or the simple act of us being in action together may or may not create the political will, however whether it does or not what watching the film ‘Tomorrow’ gave us was the inspiration that we can change things from the ground up anyway, and loads and loads and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people are doing so already.

Here is the Government response – Happy reading…

Next meeting is going to be Saturday 25th of February and we are planning to host a ‘mend it cafe’ so if you are mender of anything please do get in touch.  Best wishes for now.

Response.

The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates and recognises more needs to be done. We will continue to encourage the use of recycled materials in products and recycling by consumers.

Almost all packaging materials are technically recyclable. However, not all may actually be recycled for a number of reasons: it may not be economically viable for a local council to collect and recycle some formats; local reprocessing infrastructure may be limited, and there may be a lack of end markets for some types of recycled materials.

We are aware of the interest in compostable packaging, but the composition of packaging remains a decision for individual businesses and their customers and consumers. It is worth noting that biodegradable materials must be properly disposed of if the benefits of such technologies are to be fully realised. While biodegradable material may be able to reduce the impact of waste, it can also be more environmentally damaging than non-biodegradable plastic packaging if disposed of incorrectly. If biodegradable packaging is put in the domestic waste bin it is likely to end up in landfill and break down to release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Furthermore, if biodegradable packaging is mistakenly recycled with other plastics, it has the potential (when it biodegrades at a later date) to damage the quality of the new products – such as damp-proof courses for houses – made from the recycled plastic. However, the Government does support the development of sustainable biodegradable plastics and works with industry and trade organisations on this issue.

It is ultimately for businesses to decide what packaging materials they use to supply products to customers. However, retailers and their suppliers are encouraged to use materials that are widely collected for recycling wherever possible. For example, the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations place a legal obligation on UK businesses that make or use packaging to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they place on the market is recovered and recycled. This creates an incentive for companies to use less packaging and to ensure that their packaging can be recycled at end of life as it will reduce their costs in complying with the Regulations. The targets for plastic packaging are set to increase until 2020 and we are currently consulting on possible increases for other materials.

Businesses are also encouraged to reduce waste arising in the first place by using appropriately sized packaging. The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations require businesses to ensure that all packaging does not exceed what is needed to make sure that the products are safe, hygienic and acceptable for both the packed product and for the consumer. These Regulations apply to those responsible for the packing or filling of products into packaging and those importing packed or filled packaging into the UK from elsewhere.

Working through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Government is developing and delivering activities in support of the use of recycled materials in new products and activities to stimulate its demand. For example, the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan has identified key actions that need to take place across the whole supply chain to ensure that recycling plastics packaging can be done sustainably. This includes design for recyclability, collections and sorting, reprocessing and development of sustainable end markets. In September last year, WRAP and an industry advisory group published a framework for greater consistency in recycling. Actions from this framework aim to identify opportunities to rationalise packaging formats (in particular plastic packaging) to those that are recyclable and for which there is a steady market, and to help local authorities to recycle a greater variety of plastics.

The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates. Current policies and regulations have resulted in a significant increase in recycling over the last decade, with recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 59% in 2014, but we recognise that more needs to be done. We will continue to work with businesses, local authorities and waste managers to encourage the use of recycled materials where possible in products and activities to stimulate demand.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

 

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