From huge plastic monsters to solutions from shellfish, here’s our weird and wonderful round-up of the most positive plastic stories we’ve found in the past month…
Sea change – swimming through plastic
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have always been at the forefront of the beach clean-up operation, and this year’s Big Spring Beach Clean was no different. This year they coordinated a staggering 615 cleans nationwide on mountains, rivers and beaches.
But one event really stood out this year – SAS campaigner Laura Sanderson’s 26k swim from the summit of Snowdonia to the sea. The aim of the swim was to raise awareness about plastic pollution, and Laura collected plastic waste, and took water samples, as she swam.
Starting her swim with snow on the hills around her with a woolly hat to help keep her warm, we are in awe of Laura’s commitment and drive to help collect useful information about the scale of the plastic crisis impacting precious river life.
A new wave of funding for plastic research
At RAW, we’re pleased that there’s been such a dramatic increase in awareness about the plastic pollution crisis in recent years, but now it’s vital that more research takes place (which is why our sister charity, RAW Foundation has recently been in South America). So it’s good news to hear that Waitrose is funding 10 new university fellowships to boost research into effective solutions to tackle plastic pollution.
Taking place across 50 countries, the fellowships will focus on three areas: preventing plastics from getting into the sea; developing sustainable alternatives to plastic; and cleaning up the seas. We’re keen to follow the research projects and hear more about the findings and innovation that come out of them.
The ultimate circular economy? Turning waste shellfish into plastic
Speaking of innovative research, here’s one we couldn’t resist including this month. A startup called The Shellworks is researching the potential of lobster shells an alternative to single-use plastic, thanks to a bio-polymer in their shells called chitin. Using a range of quirky machines, they extract, form and recycle the material, which they hope could be used to replace a significant amount of the single use plastic we use every day.
Who knew that shellfish could actually provide a solution to the very problem that is attacking its own environment?
Good on Guinness for changing their packaging
A big thumbs up to Guinness this month for its move away from plastic packaging. The company is investing an impressive £16m to replace plastic packaging, including 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard packaging as a replacement for plastic shrink wrap and ring carriers. Guinness hopes this will reduce its plastic footprint by 400 tonnes annually.
It’s not the first big beer brand to ditch plastic packaging – Corona and Carlsberg also deserve a mention for similar initiatives. It’s encouraging to see an industry finding solutions to its own plastic problems, we hope it inspires other industries to do the same.
Nestlé attacked by plastic monsters
One of the next steps in our fight against plastic pollution must be holding the worst offenders to account. We love how Greenpeace has used another creative and quirky stunt to show how much devastation just one company can cause.
Greenpeace says: “Nestlé and other multinational corporations produce massive amounts of single-use plastic packaging. Last year, Nestlé used 1.7 million tonnes of plastic packaging. And while their latest move is to try to argue the exact numbers, the simple fact remains that Nestlé produced more plastic last year than the year before… In fact, Nestlé was named one of the worst plastic polluters after cleanups and brand audits of plastic waste around the world in 2018.”
Creating huge monsters 20 metres long and made out of Nestle’s plastic waste, Greenpeace journeyed through Europe to the Nestle AGM to demand the company stops relying on single-use plastics, and the monsters also made visits to Nestle offices all over the world. Follow their journey on the Greenpeace blog!
What positive plastic stories have you come across recently? We’d love to hear about them – tweet us at @RAWBottles to let us know!