UK

Climate Change Good News: Post-Plastic Positivity Edition!

It’s not all bad on the climate change front! We’re not pretending a record-breaking heatwave hasn’t just happened – it’s obviously mainly bad, but occasionally we swerve in the right direction for a second. Imagine a pizza where everything is bad except the fresh basil garnish. Got it? Well, we’re about to give you that basil on top of a limited edition plastic-topped pizza.

 

  • Canada has laid out rules banning bags, straws and other single-use plastics – mainly those used in food and drink retail. The ban on manufacture and import of those six types of items will begin in December 2022, and the ban on sale a year later. By the end of 2025, Canada will also ban export, making it “the first among peer jurisdictions to do so internationally”, according to a government news release. There are a few niggling little exceptions to the laws meaning that straws can be offered if they’re kept out of customer view, but hopefully everyone gets how pointless that is and avoids them anyway!

 

  • The United States and the European Commission have officially joined the Clean Seas Campaign. This is a huge step, as it means they’re acknowledging the need to put an end to the flow of waste into the ocean rather than just trying to reduce it at its source (which clearly hasn’t been going too well). The Clean Seas Campaign is the biggest campaign devoted to ‘turning the tide’ against plastic in the world, with commitments made by 69 countries. This covers more than 76% of the world’s coastlines! In demonstrating their commitment to cleaning up the problem that’s already there, they’re shifting the blame off of the consumer by saying that  Even better, more voluntary commitments are expected to be made at this year’s United Nations Ocean Conference to address ocean-related issues that affect communities and countries! Keep an ear out.

 

  • California has passed its first sweeping law to reduce single-use plastic, becoming the first US state to approve one like it! Under the new law, the state will have to ensure a 25% drop in single-use plastic by 2032. It also requires that at least 30% of plastic items sold or bought in California are recyclable by 2028, and establishes a plastic pollution mitigation fund. It gets more intense: the state will also be required to reduce expanded polystyrene 25% by 2023, a goal experts say will be all but impossible to reach as so little of the material is currently recycled. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though! The material will be banned entirely if producers are unable to meet the required recycling rates, which grow every few years until the state requires that 65% of polystyrene be recycled by 2032. Even better, by 2032, 65% of all plastic items sold or distributed in California must be recyclable – and any entity that fails to comply with the new law could face fines of up to $50,000 a day. 2032 might look a little far away, but with targets in place for as early as 2023 we couldn’t ask for much more. Here’s hoping more states (or even countries) follow suit ASAP!

 

  • The WhiteCycle project, coordinated by Michelin, was launched in July with a goal of developing a circular solution to PET. PET is the third most widely used plastic in the world and is found in everything from textiles to plastic bottles meaning it’s unlikely we’ll see the back of it any time soon, so alternative solutions are needed. Unfortunately, as it’s what’s known as a ‘complex waste’, it can only be recycled once. By giving PET a circular lifecycle, WhiteCycle hopes to see the plastic waste go back into the creation of high-performance products instead of going into landfill. It hopes that by 2030, uptake of the programme will mean more than 2 million tons of PET will be recycled each year!

 

  • Balloon releases, takeaway coffee cups & plastic cotton buds are being phased out in the Australian state of Queensland. They have a 5 year plan in place, with the Government first banning plastic microbeads, polystyrene packing peanuts and plastic-stemmed cotton buds and releases of helium balloons by 2023. It will then go on to target coffee cups and lids – all on top of their movement in 2018 to phase out lightweight single-use plastic bags, with bans on plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeaway containers and EPS cups, soon after. They announced this after a government survey found 91% of Queenslanders backed further bans on single-use plastics – pretty cool to hear how everyone’s on board, huh?

 

  • The final biggie: It’s not necessarily only a plastic problem, but On 18 July 2022, as the UK sweltered in record temperatures, the High Court ruled in favour of ClientEarth’s case against the Government’s inadequate net zero strategy, concluding that it breaches the Climate Change Act, and needs to be strengthened. ClientEarth teamed up with Friends of the Earth and Good Law Project, and argued that the Government had failed to show that its policies will reduce emissions sufficiently to meet its legally binding carbon budgets – targets which limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that the UK can emit over five year periods on the road to net zero. They also argued that the net zero strategy failed to include enough information about the policies and their expected effects to allow Parliament and the public to properly scrutinise its plans, and went on to say that these failings meant the UK Government had breached its legal duties under the 2008 Climate Change Act. The ruling means that lots of information was hidden from the public eye, but no longer! The UK Government now has eight months to update its climate strategy to include a quantified account of how its policies will actually achieve climate targets. These will have to be based on a realistic assessment of what it actually expects them to deliver, so there will be more chance of sticking to it. Lies from the Government are nothing new, but big up these guys for actually calling them out on it this time!

 

  • And saving the best until last… Our personal fave: scientists have unveiled a bionic robo-fish to remove microplastics from seas! How is that a sentence that we’re seeing today?! The tiny 13mm long robo-fish swims around of its own accord, hunting down microplastics and attaching them to its surface. Even cooler; the fish is made of a new material inspired by the lining of shells (i.e. mother of pearl), and has self-healing properties meaning that if it gets damaged on its mission, it can fix itself! It’s not ready to be deployed into the real world yet, but we’ve got high hopes…

 

Leaving us feeling too carefree? No problemo – just go back and read our post about how we end up feeding so much of our trash to the ocean. We’re all about a balanced diet…

 

Alternatively, got any good news to share? Whether it’s environmental or personal, we want to hear it! Comment below or drop us a line over on social media to give everyone a boost.

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