Monday, 9 June 2014

The plastics industry is "incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture."

A paradox, but recycling might not be so good after all...

This column will change your life: near enemies
'Hatred, it won't surprise you to learn, is the far enemy of love. Near enemies are much sneakier and harder to spot'

Oliver Burkeman The Guardian, Saturday 7 June 2014

The idea might even apply on a societal level, suggests the Buddhist teacher Ethan Nichtern: what if recycling and other relatively superficial aspects of an "ethical lifestyle" are best understood as the near enemies of a true commitment to environmental action, making climate change harder rather than easier to address? You might expect the plastics industry to be against recycling, but as Nichtern writes, it's "incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture".

This column will change your life: near enemies | Life and style | The Guardian

Keep Your Enemies Close, and Your Near Enemies Closer
posted by Ethan Nichtern

Here’s a good one: in the world of environmentalism, I’m starting to believe recycling is the near-enemy of true environmental action. I was first fully introduced to this argument in the seminal work Cradle to Cradle and now in the Back to the Sack project it has become clear that the plastics industry is incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long term vision of the reduction of disposable culture.

Cradle to Cradle. Remaking the Way We Make Things

'Reduce, reuse, recycle' urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. But as architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart point out in this provocative, visionary book, this approach only perpetuates the one-way, 'cradle to grave' manufacturing model, dating to the Industrial Revolution, that creates such fantastic amounts of waste and pollution in the first place. Why not challenge the belief that human industry must damage the natural world? In fact, why not take nature itself as our model for making things? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we consider its abundance not wasteful but safe, beautiful and highly effective.

Waste equals food.

Guided by this principle, McDonough and Braungart explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new - continually circulating as pure and viable materials within a 'cradle to cradle' model. Drawing on their experience in redesigning everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, McDonough and Braungart make an exciting and viable case for putting eco-effectiveness into practice, and show how anyone involved in making anything can begin to do so as well.

Reduce and Reuse, and Why They Trump “Recycle”

By David McRobert* and Tyler Edwards** 

March 2012

One of the fundamental principles of sound waste management policy and the oldest adage of the conservation and environmental movements is the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” (also known as the 3Rs). The basic idea is that we can lower our personal household or family’s ecological footprint by reducing the need to buy new products. We can do this by initially purchasing, whenever possible, durable products like well-manufactured quality cars, appliances and even shoes.

Our ancestors knew that well built products, whether wood stoves or hay wagons, lasted much longer, especially when maintained with care. In addition, we need to ask the hard questions before we purchase new goods – “do we really need this new gadget? Can the purchase wait? Can we buy it used on Kijiji?” A corollary is that we should reuse manufactured products and carefully crafted goods as well as packages such as drink containers whenever possible.

It seems, though, that for four decades we have directed the bulk of our attention to the third method, “recycle,” at the expense of the other two Rs because it doesn’t threaten our model of a consumption-driven economy. We argue herein that recycling is a useful, if limited, tool on the road to making our society more environmentally sound, but it is not as strong as the other two
methods, “reduce” and “reuse.”


BBC Radio 4 looked at the packing industry recently:

Packaging in a Pickle

Modern living generates ever increasing amounts of packaging to wrap up the things we purchase and that generates widespread criticism of the packaging industry. But packaging companies are trying to innovate to respond to both environmental and marketing needs. Peter Day investigates what is wrapped around the products we all buy.

BBC Radio 4 - In Business, Packaging in a Pickle
Packaging Europe News - Radio 4’s In Business Programme: Packaging in a Pickle

Meanwhile, the packaging industry is talking more about the benefits of their product:
Welcome to INCPEN The Industry Council for research on Packaging and The Environment
The Good, The Bad and The Spudly
The Good, The Bad and The Spudly - YouTube

But it does seem that the packaging industry is 'incredibly supportive of recycling legislation':

Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan

WRAP is facilitating an industry initiative called the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) to help the UK industry to increase the recycling of UK plastic packaging waste and meet recycling targets.

New UK plastic packaging recycling targets were announced by government in its 2012 budget. This included a target to increase recycling from 32% in 2012 to 57% by 2017 (source).

The 57% target applies only to businesses obligated by the Producer Responsibility Obligations for packaging; this equates to a national achievement target of 42.3% recycling for plastic packaging. This means we need to almost double the tonnage recycled to 1.2 million tonnes per year by 2017.

PIRAP was set up to create and oversee a series of actions to enable the achievement of the UK plastic packaging recycling targets. It is coordinated by WRAP and is being overseen by a Steering Group consisting of industry bodies and trade associations across the plastic packaging value chain.

WRAP is facilitating an industry initiative called the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) to help the UK industry to increase the recycling of UK plastic packaging waste and meet recycling targets. | WRAP UK

Plastics: Recycling and Sustainability

In order for a product or material to be truly described as sustainable it must be environmentally, economically and sociallysustainable. These aspects have become known as the Three Pillars of Sustainability. Plastics make a positive contribution to all three pillars of sustainability.

Plastics make an immense contribution to the environmental sustainability through their energy saving potential and intrinsic recyclability and energy recovery options. Economically plastics form an important part of the UK economy and are a major export product. Socially the plastics industry is a major and inclusive employer with an attention to training and education. 

BPF: British Plastics Federation - Plastics: Recycling and Sustainability 

Aluminium and the carbon economy

Aluminium’s role in a carbon-based economy and why it’s so important to ensure maximum recycling.

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