26 JUL 2018

Plastic Pollution

Ever since last year's Blue Planet series, which so movingly and graphically depicted the impact that plastic is having on our oceans, the issue has never been far from the news agenda. There is no doubt that reducing our dependence on plastic is one of the key environmental challenges facing this generation, and we all have our part to play as individuals, in business and in government.

My family have actively reduced single-use plastic items, sought to identify plastics that are recyclable and avoid those that are not, and significantly revised our purchasing decisions at the supermarket.

In my Maidstone office we have installed a water cooler with paper cups which has dramatically reduced the number of plastic bottles we were purchasing.

In the wider business community a number of our supermarket chains are also committing to removing unnecessary plastic packaging. For them it is not only environmentally responsible, they also stand to gain a premium in brand perception too.

The Government has adopted a policy to remove all avoidable plastic waste by 2043, have already banned microbeads, have consulted on how to eradicate plastics straws and published plans for a bottle deposit scheme among other measures.

On the global front however, a report from the National Audit Office last week indicated serious concerns about plastic waste being exported for recycling that actually ends up in landfill or polluting the worlds seas elsewhere. Government and business will need to up the ante on auditing these exports if we are to see a genuine net reduction in plastic pollution from the UK,and I expect further plans on this to be announced later this year.

Turning the tide on plastics is a worldwide challenge. Government, business and consumers are coming together to make a real difference but there's no room for complacency.

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Helen's column

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