Sustainability. Can we grow enough ‘plants’ to satisfy requirements?

During the week my wife bought a cup home which she proudly showed me was biodegradable because it was made from plants….

During the week my wife bought a cup home which she proudly showed me was biodegradable because it was made from plants….

pla cup 1

….I jumped immediately onto my soap box. Did she not know that despite the promise of biodegradability that this was only possible in industrial conditions and not just when laid on the ground?! Did she not know that these materials are not collected at the kerbside currently and as they are mistaken for plastics that are, they contaminate current recycling streams they have the potential to cause more of a problem than they are solving…??!!

As I gave my mini lecture to my wife and children across the breakfast bar, believing that this was information that they absolutely had to know, instead of the serious nodding of heads, or looks of relative shock that I expected, I instead saw smiling faces, and then a high five between my son and wife…”We got him!” It is comforting that my family know me so well, discomforting that I am so predictable.

By the way, if you don’t believe me, have a read of the link below and make up your own mind. There is of course a place for these materials, and they could well be the future, but questions of sustainibility – can we grow enough ‘plants’ to satisfy requirements, collection infrustructure – we still need to rely on people returning / collecting waste to be composted industrially, and of course cost – PLA is currently significantly more expensive than current similar material options, not to mention much harder to use, could all warrant a separate “thought.”

This led to a conversation around the dinner table regarding the availability of recycling of the materials that Dad uses at work. How can a material that is THE most widely used plastic (Polypropylene) that is so easily recycled NOT be collected at the kerbside? Polypropylene manufacturers are screaming out for more recyclate, the market is there, and let’s be fair it all comes down to the mighty dollar.

It is great to hear celebrities in the week such as @LewisHamilton and Jason Mamoa who have the potential to influence huge numbers of people, raising awareness about climate change, but making sure that these people are properly informed before bemoaning plastics as a whole is vital. Lewis when you read this, call me, we’ll do lunch and debate plastics, and best of luck for the weekend and your 6th World title, #inspirational.

When I hear friends saying the same I ask what their motivation for their comments are? Is it because they think that it all ends up floating in the sea? Is it for reasons of climate change? It is clear the media pressure and social conscious is driving change without the longer term effects of that change (no proper infrustructure and information) being understood.

There are a lot of questions. There isn’t one answer. I don’t even think that there is ever a right answer either (and that doesn’t just apply to the Plastics Debate, but now I am getting a bit too deep and meaningful for a Friday.)

Can we blame our local council for not collecting and recycling every ounce of waste that we produce? What responsibility do we have to reduce the amount of waste that we produce? What part do we as consumers play in identifying and properly disposing of our waste responsibly? As manufacturers what responsibility do we have to ensure that everything that goes out the door can be properly identified to help with the recycling process? The list goes on.

Coming up with sustainable, responsible alternative options for our current plastics, with the waste streams to deal with them, ensuring that we recycle wherever we can, and pressuring government to give us the information and infrustructure to do so… hang on, what am I saying this is politics and I think we might just have to tackle this problem on our own.

Have a listen from around 2 minutes 45 seconds, to 16 minutes of the link below when you can to hear how kerbside collection services vary from council to council. Shocking really that all this emphasis is being put on plastics when we are not even able to standardise and agree our recycling from council to council of even the most basic of items. It can’t be that hard can it??

At Ambro we recognise that plastic isn’t always the answer. Equally the alternatives that we are being asked for aren’t always either. Plastic in its various forms makes a huge amount of sense, and is often by far the most environmentally friendly option to produce and use. We (industry and consumers alike) have to take responsibility for the proper disposal and recycling of it. It is a team effort and not one person’s duty.

At Ambro we are able to produce products from Card Board as well as plastics, and we will be launching this offer officially in the coming weeks – so watch this space!

If you have any environmental concerns, or questions call me, and we can talk it through. I am not in to pressuring people to have what they don’t need. Used correctly and responsibly, thinking about the whole life cycle of a product, there is no reason for anything that we produce to end up in landfill, but we all have to want to make a change. There is no magic wand.

As before, if there are any questions or suggestions, you know where to find me.

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