Archive for Packaging
La Mode Verte has added it’s name to a bill in the US state of California that aims to encourage the recycling of fast-food takeout packaging, thereby reducing the amount of waste entering the environment. The Senate Bill 529 Fast Food Packaging and Marine Pollution Reduction, which has been put forward by Senator Mark Leno to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in Sacremento, has also been supported by great organisations such as Heal The Bay, 7th Generation Advisors, Sierra Club California, and the Surfrider Foundation. LMV is proud to support the bill, which “would prohibit food providers from distributing single-use food packaging and bags unless the packaging or bag is accepted for either recycling or composting in at least 75% of households in a jurisdiction.” According to the bill, plastic pollution jeopardises California’s $40 billion ocean economy and the city of LA already spends around $1 billion on clearing waterways of trash. The bill, if passed, would be a huge step in reducing the impacts of this pollution.
www.treehugger.com 3rd January 2012
The city of Concord (pop. 18,000) in the north-eastern state of Massachusetts in the US has become the first city to ban plastic water bottles. The ban, organised over the course of three years by 84 year-old resident Jean Hill, has been signed off by the state attorney general and applies to all water sold in a plastic bottle of 1 litre or less. It kicked into place on the 1st January. The first offence comes with a warning, the second a $25 fine and any after that a fine of $50. ”I hope other towns will follow,” Hill said. “I feel bottled water is a waste of money.” According to NBC News, the bottled water industry is considering a legal challenge. ”This ban deprives residents of the option to choose their choice of beverage and visitors, who come to this birthplace of American independence, a basic freedom gifted to them by the actions in this town more than 200 years ago,” the Virginia-based International Bottled Water Association stated, noting Concord’s place in U.S. history. “It will also deprive the town of needed tax revenue and harm local businesses that rely on bottled water sales.”
www.guardian.co.uk 14th August 2012
The European Union has made radical changes to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, the world’s first comprehensive e-waste legislation introduced in 2003. The original legislation placed “producer responsibility” ‘on manufacturers that made them legally and financially responsible for the safe collection and disposal of old equipment’. However problems persisted with the export of e-waste to countries outside the EU for scrap. The updated directive ‘will impose a series of ambitious new e-waste recovery and recycling targets on the IT and electronics industry while also introducing stringent new penalties for companies and member states who fail to comply with the rules…new targets will require member states to collect 45 per cent of electronic equipment sold for approved recycling or disposal from 2016, rising to 65 per cent of equipment sold or 85 per cent of electronic waste generated by 2019, depending on which goal member states choose to adopt’. EU member states have until February 14 2014 to transcribe the new EU directive into their national e-waste laws.
A couple of days ago, LMV director Ed Scott-Clarke added his name to a letter sent to the editor of the Daily Telegraph by Greener Upon Thames, an environmental charity that hosted the first UK screening of Plastic Shores. The letter called for a reduction of plastic bags used during the 2012 Olympics and other signatories included Zac Goldsmith MP, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and Jeff Bridges. Already Locog (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) has stated it will not use disposable plastic bags in its shops but there are many other stores that still need to follow suit.
On the 1st January 2008, Tisbury, a small village in Wiltshire with a population of just over 2,000, became the second settlement in the UK to ban plastic bags. The first had been Modbury, which features in our documentary ‘Plastic Shores‘, to great success. Six months down the line however and Tisbury abandoned the ban. Today, LMV is based partly in the village and we are making steps to get disposable plastic bags back on the agenda. On the 1st June, we held a screening of Plastic Shores in the Nadder Hall. After a relatively small turnout for the Oxford screening two days before, the Tisbury showing was a full house. We wanted to do something on top of the film to promote the ideas of reducing, reusing, recycling in the village and so a bag-making day was organised in a local pub: The Benett Arms. The pub is run by Alistair and Charlie Large of the Keystone Brewery, who have been the subject of a LMV article before. Helping us was Judith Gait, an artist specialising in textiles, who has the most beautiful collection of vintage Singer sewing machines in art-deco style (pictured).
www.latimes.com 24th May 2012
Los Angeles, California, became the largest city in the USA to ban single-use plastic bags at supermarket checkouts. In a city that has previously used 12 billion plastic bags a year (with only 5% of these being recycled), the decision the City Council is a huge victory for environmental campaigners trying to combat plastic pollution in the region’s landfills, waterways and ocean. The Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out bags over the next 16 months in the city’s 7,500 stores. California leads the way in the country with plastic bag bans. San Francisco was the first in 2007 and since then San Jose, Santa Monica, and Long Beach have all jumped on the wagon. The bans vary in wording with some silent on the contentious issue of paper bags (a long-held argument of plastic-bag manufacturers is that plastic bags reduce the amount of trees needed for paper bags) although the LA City Council has stipulated there should be a charge of 10c per paper bag. This, according to Jennie R. Romer of plasticbaglaws.org, has resulted in a 94% reduction of their use (a similar figure to the drop experienced in Rep. of Ireland when the country introduced a fee on plastic bags). Oakland, next to San Francisco, had less success with their ban after they were successfully sued because of it. It will however be included in Alameda County’s ban starting next year.
When LMV first arrived in the USA to start filming for Plastic Shores in March 2011, the first thing we did was attend the San Francisco Green Film Festival. It was a great event, which held the premier of Bag It, a film very similar to Plastic Shores in theme but done in a very different way. In fact, several interviewees in Bag It are also in our film such as Professor Fred vom Saal and Andy Keller. We met Andy (above on board with 5 Gyres) for the first time at the festival. He runs a company called ChicoBag, based in the nearby city of Chico, which makes innovative reusable bags made out of recycled plastic (below). Andy came up with the idea on a trip to his local landfill where he saw multitudes of single-use plastic bags flying around in the wind. ChicoBag now sells in over 80 different countries, including the UK.
Andy Keller was actually the first interview we held for Plastic Shores, underneath the Coit Tower in central San Francisco. He brought along another one of his creations, the Bag Monster, which was made to raise awareness of the amount of plastic bags US citizens use. It consists of 500 bags, the amount an average American uses in a year, tied to a jumpsuit creating a hilarious monster outfit (below) that is toured around the US in a herd. Andy was kind enough to give LMV one to take back to the UK. We hope to bring it out (and maybe make more) for one of our big public showings.
“People get it and they’re like ‘oh’,” said Andy. “Most people don’t keep their bags long enough to know how many bags they actually use in a year so this is a very awakening moment for most people when they see what a bag monster looks like. And to realise that maybe they are actually a bag monster themselves.” On several occasions Andy has managed to gather hundreds of Bag Monsters together to campaign for plastic bag reductions, which has made him somewhat of a target to large corporate bodies with vested interests in the disposable plastic industry.
Andy donated some fantastic footage to Plastic Shores, which features in the section about reducing our use of disposable plastics, and we can’t thank him enough for his help.
www.independent.co.uk 15th April 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Puma has come up with a new method of bagging up their footwear, with a neat packaging innovation that reduces the paper required for shoeboxes by 65 percent and is expected to lower the company’s carbon emissions by 10,000 tons a year. The ‘Clever Little Bag’ is a re-usable shoe bag designed to protect each pair of shoes as it makes its way from manufacturer to market, replacing the chunky cardboard boxes normally used in the footwear industry with a recycled plastic outer and a single piece of cardboard inserted to hold the shoes in place. The new bag is part of Puma’s drive to lower water, energy and diesel consumption. The sportswear firm is also looking to make similar savings in other areas, with simple and effective solutions that cut both carbon emissions and internal costs. Swiss product designer Yves Behar, one of the chief creatives behind the award-winning One Laptop Per Child project and also came up with the distinctive Jawbone bluetooth earpiece, worked with Puma on the new packaging concept. Known for his optimistic stance on the future and commitment to sustainability, he described the problem of excessive packaging as “one of the most challenging issues facing the retail industry in regards to sustainability and environmental harm,” and said that he hoped the new design would encourage other retail companies to re-consider their approach to packaging and distribution. The initiative is part of a company-wide sustainability program which has also seen the introduction of smaller, biodegradable bags for that reduces packaging by 45 percent. Though this may not be the first time a shoe manufacturer re-evaluated their approach to packaging – Brooks has been running a year-on-year shoebox redesign program, and Newton Running came up with a box molded to the shape of their shoes – but Puma’s size and renown makes this a significant step in the right direction.’
On the 13th November, LMV has organised an event on the southern shores of the Cayman Islands to help raise awareness for the problems of marine debris in the country. The Cayman Island Shoe Tree was created by Wolfgang Brocklebank (Canadian) and Giovanna Inselmini (Swiss) after they discovered huge numbers of shoes and flip-flops on Caymanian beaches. They collected them together and pinned them up on a dead tree, right beside the busy South Sound Road. In an effort to raise the profile of the Tree even further, LMV has organised a mass pin-up to be filmed as part of our documentary ‘Plastic Shores’, and to be covered by local press. The event is also going to be sponsored by the Cayman Islands Brewery (CIB).
The Brewery is one of the few companies on the islands that takes its environmental impact very seriously. As we have mentioned before, recycling is almost non-existent on the islands (apart from a smattering of aluminium can recycling points) yet the brewery, in the space of 4 years, has managed to achieve a 40% return rate for its glass bottles. This is no mean feat considering how progressive the idea was when introduced and how alien the concept was to local restaurants and bars (roughly 14 million glass bottles are disposed of in landfill per year). Furthermore, actual waste produced on the plant is minimal. Waste water is processed and used for irrigation. Reusable plastic crates have replaced disposable cardboard boxes. And plans have been put into place to phase out the plastic 6-pack beer rings in favour of a biodegradable alternative by next year.
The CIB have also been working closely with the Department of the Environment on various marine conservation issues. This work culminated in the creation of a whole new beer to raise awareness for declining shark populations: White Tip Lager. 5 cents per can of White Tip sold goes to the DOE and Save Our Seas. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular beers on island. Not yet satisfied with the impact they have had with recycling on the island, October and November have been designated ‘Recycle for a Cause’ months by the CIB. During this period, for every case of empty bottles returned to the brewery, it will donate $1 to the Cayman Island Cancer Society. Judging by the sheer number of cases LMV saw when looking around the brewery today, this project too has been a considerable success.
LMV is always on the look out for models of sustainability. Today we found the perfect example in the form of Keystone Brewery based just outside Fonthill Bishop, Wiltshire. Run by retired army officer Alasdair Large and his wife Charlie, Keystone Brewery has made every effort possible to reduce the size of their carbon footprint as well as source all their ingredients locally. The brewery itself is a small affair compared to the beer giants found in most supermarkets and has a possible daily output of 40 casks of 9 gallons (about 2,880 pints). Of this 95% ends up at various pubs dotted around the area. The rest is brewed specially for private events or bottled for retail (Alasdair makes sure his bottles are made from lightweight glass to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation).
When it comes to ingredients, locality is the central theme. The three main ingredients of beer are hops, barley, and water (with yeast added for the alcohol). Unfortunately hops isn’t grown in Wiltshire as the soil isn’t suitable so Keystone gets it from Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Kent. This is about as far as any of the main ingredients come from. The barley is floor-malted in the traditional way (there are only two floor-maltings left in the UK and fortunately one of them is in Warminster, only 30 minutes away). Of course, just because the barley is malted nearby does not mean that the barley itself comes from nearby. So Alasdair set about persuading the local farmer (on whose land the brewery is based) to start supplying Warminster Maltings so that he could tell exactly where the barley in his beer came from. The water for the beer comes from a bore-hole not 200m behind the brewery sheds.
To Alasdair and Charlie sustainability and locality is ‘common sense’. Why spend money on expensive fuel and imported ingredients when that money can be kept in the local economy by using local resources and reducing transport distance. Keystone also partnered up with a local solar-panel distributor Hugh Synge from Soltrac to allow the roof of the brewery be a test site for the effectiveness of 6 different types of solar panel. As a result, Keystone rarely has to spend money on water-heating, a key part of the brewing process. It also means less detergent is needed in cleaning the brewery (the casks and vats) as the water is warm and can clean more effectively. All these moves towards a sustainable business seem to have paved off with Keystone receiving several awards. One beer alone, the Gold Spice (the spice is an added ginger taste), has been given the Gold Award for speciality beers from the Society of Independent Brewers as well as a Taste Award from the Guild of Fine Food. They have also received a fair bit of international attention, particularly in the USA with articles written on their sustainable practices being published in the New York Times and The Statesman.
LMV visited the village of Modbury in Devon today to investigate how they managed to pass a ban on plastic bags. In 2007, Rebecca Hosking, a former BBC wildlife photographer, returned to the village, her hometown, after a visit to Hawaii documenting the effects of plastics on the environment there. The horrific she saw galvanised her into action. Over a beer or two with the local delicatessen owner Adam Searle and their respective partners, Rebecca and co. decided to make Modbury plastic bag free. They began by gathering all the village’s 43 shop owners at the Brownston gallery owned by Sue Sturton, another supporter of the project, and showed them Rebecca’s documentary ‘Message in the Waves’. The images of turtles choking on plastic bags and dead albatross chicks with stomachs filled with plastic was enough to make everyone agree on a 6 month trial of banning disposable plastic bags.
The trial was such a success Modbury remains single-use plastic bag free today. Shopkeepers use a combination of corn-starch based plastic bags, renewable bags, and paper bags as alternatives. What they have discovered though is that fewer people over the years are buying the 10p starch-plastic bags and are bringing their own. LMV interviewed both Sue and Adam in our visit and both had said that public opinion was, from the very beginning, behind the ban. Adam said he was using 200+ conventional plastic bags a week before the ban and now he barely sells 5 a month of the alternatives (LMV director Edward Scott-Clarke bought 5 at once to show other people so numbers are slightly higher this month).
The simple question is, if it was so easy to do in Modbury then why not the rest of the country? With Italy recently introducing its nation-wide ban and France already virtually plastic-bag free, the UK is lagging behind. LMV is doing its best to reintroduce a ban in Tisbury in Wiltshire, which fell through months after its introduction. The results of this campaign will be shown in our film, due to be released at the end of the year.
www.bbc.co.uk 1st April 2011
New research published in the American Chemical Society has suggested that the billions of waste chicken feathers discarded from meat processing factories could be used to make a new series of strong, lighter plastics. Feathers, like hair and fingernails, are made up of a chemically stable protein called keratin, which, once added to methyl acrylate, creates “a potential substitute for petroleum products”. The manner of the process put froward by Yiqi Yang, from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, means that the end product will contain more than 50% chicken feather fibres. ”If used as composite materials, no polyethylene or polypropylene [petroleum based chemicals] are needed. Therefore [the plastics] will be more degradable and more sustainable,” Professor Yang said to the BBC. The new material is still in the trial stages and larger scales tests are needed to test its commercial feasibility. The USA alone discards around 1 billion kilograms of chicken feathers every year.
The Plastiki organisation, led by the adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, has come up with some pretty innovative ways of dealing with plastic waste. Using 12,500 recycled plastic bottles they put together a boat capable of sailing the high seas and travel the world raising awareness on the problems of plastics in the environment. In their travels they have come across a community in Guatemala who have begun using discarded plastic bottles in just as an imaginative way. Supported by the Hug It Forward organisation, children and adults alike take bottles and stuff them with other bits of rubbish to create ‘eco-bricks’, which they then use to make buildings such as the local school.
A Suffolk based inventor has come up with an idea that he thinks will help solve Britain’s landfill crisis. Each day, 15 million plastic bottles are used in the UK and most of these end up in landfill around the country. The average plastic bottle takes 500 years to decompose. Martin Myerscough came up with the idea of creating a papier-mache carton with a plastic lining to keep the milk fresh when he was helping his son make a papier-mache balloon for school. Dubbed the GreenBottle, the invention allows consumers to rip out the plastic lining and then recycle the papier-mache. This can be done up to 7 times whereas plastic bottles can only be recycled once. Also, the GreenBottle can be composted in a matter of weeks. The GreenBottle has been trialled by Asda supermarkets (owned by WalMart) and a nation-wide roll-out is currently underway.
http://storyofstuff.org is a great group that makes short films about problems our world faces. This one on bottled water tackles the hypocrisy of the bottled water industry and the benefits of drinking good old bottled water.
A study by the Washington Toxics Coalition has revealed that 95% of dollar bills tested positive for the dangerous chemical Bisphenol A. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that mimics naturally produced hormones such as estrogen and is known to cause severe physical side-effects in lab-mice. Furthermore, the BPA contaminating US currency differs to that found in plastics and aluminum cans because it is not chemically bound to the money, making it very easy to rub off in pockets and on fingers. “Our findings demonstrate that BPA cannot be avoided, even by the most conscious consumer,” said Erika Schreder, Staff Scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition and lead author of the report. “This unregulated use of large amounts of BPA is having unintended consequences, including exposure to people when we touch receipts.” Over 90% of Americans tested for BPA are positive. The main source of the chemical is believed to be food as a very large proportion of it is wrapped in BPA containing packaging. Professor Frederick Vom Saal of the Endocrine Disruptors Group at the University of Missouri-Colombia has performed tests that links the chemical to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, immune dysfunction, damage to every part of the reproductive system, ovarian cysts, breast cancer, low sperm counts, prostate cancer, urethra abnormalities, ADHD, and social behaviour disruption. There is currently no regulatory body in the USA that oversees the use of BPA.
Best Green Educational Project (Promoting Sustainable Development Issues), Sponsored by Birds Eye Igloo:
Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC – Let’s Grow (UK)
Best Green Product Innovation, Sponsored by Microsoft Corporation:
Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp. – SolidWorks Sustainability (USA)
Best Green Third/ Charity Sector Campaign Award, Sponsored by HotelREZ:
International Advertising Association – “Hopenhagen” (Global – USA)
Best Green Advertising Award (Print & Outdoor):
China Environmental Protection Foundation – “Green Pedestrian Crossing” (China)
Best CSR Report Award:
Kingfisher plc – “Future Homes CR Report” (UK)
Best Green Direct Response Award (Direct Mail /Drtv / Dr Radio Etc):
Arjowiggins Graphic – “What One Tree Means To Me” (UK)
Best Green Event Award (Shows / Exhibitions):
National Trust – “A Plant in Time – A Touring Exhibition” (UK)
Best Green Internal Communications Awards:
Anglian Water Services Limited – “Biodiversity Field Guide & Intranet” (UK)
Best Green International Campaign Awards, Sponsored by Hayes & Jarvis:
Convention on Biological Diversity – “The International Year of Biodiversity” (UK)
Best Green Mixed Media Award (Integrated):
Toyota Sweden AB – “Toyota Glass of Water” (Sweden)
Best Green Moving Image Award (Audio-Visual / TV Spot / Short Film / Animation), Sponsored by Green.tv:
Scottish Government – “Greener Travel & Transport” (UK)
Best Green Packaging Awards:
Planet People – “iQ: The Smarter Cleaner” (USA)
Best Green PR Campaign Awards:
RecycleBank – “Waste not, want not” (UK)
Best Green Public Sector Campaign Awards, Sponsored by Yell:
Forum for the Future – “Farming Futures – practical action on climate change” (UK)
Best Green Use of Online Media Award (Banners / Social Media Campaigns / Websites):
Ecomodo – “The marketplace of good returns” (UK)
Best Green Use of Mobile Apps and Technologies:
River Cottage – “Landshare” (UK)
e360.yale.edu 22nd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Drinking glasses decorated with cartoon superheroes and movie characters were found to contain the dangerous chemical cadmium and levels of lead far exceed federal safety standards for children’s products, according to a laboratory analysis commissioned by the Associated Press. The enamel used to decorate the glasses — which are produced in China and sold at the Warner Brothers store in Burbank, Calif. — contained 16 to 30.2 percent lead, far exceeding the 0.03 percent standard, according to the AP. The laboratory analysis also found that the glasses contained the toxic metal cadmium, although there are currently no federal standards for safe limits of that substance. In separate tests, the AP found that several other types of decorative glasses targeted to children also shed small but notable levels of lead or cadmium after regular handling. After learning of the results, Coca-Cola, the producer of one of the decorative glasses, voluntarily recalled 88,000 glasses.’
www.latimes.com 17th November 2010
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has banned plastic ‘grocery’ bags in all shops within its jurisdiction. When the new law comes into effect July next year, 67 supermarkets and pharmacies will stop providing disposable plastics bags with as many as 1000 shops following suit by January 2012. The ban follows similar action taken in San Francisco and Malibu. “Plastic bags are a pollutant. They pollute the urban landscape,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. ”They are what we call in our county urban tumbleweed.” The law was passed after a board vote of 3-1. The ayes were the three Democrats on the board: Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas.The nay was Republican Michael D. Antonovich; Don Knabe, also a Republican, was absent. Mr. Antonovich expressed his concern that smaller retail outlets would be disadvantaged as they would not have access to volume-discounts for paper and reusable bags. “At a time of economic uncertainty, with a large number of businesses leaving our state and community, this would not be an appropriate time … to impose this additional regulation,” Antonovich said. Around 8 billion plastic bags are currently used in LA county alone, an average of 1,600 bags per household. Only 5% of these are recycled. The move by the Board of Directors comes with growing awareness on the US west coast of plastic pollution in the oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a ‘plastic soup’ of human refuse in the Pacific now stretches all the way to Japan in two enormous circulating gyres (pictured).
www.independent.co.uk 10th November 2010
In 2001 it was discovered that packaging from McDonald’s was killing hedgehogs. Containers used for McFlurry Deserts are particularly appealing to the small mammals as left-over ice-cream tempts them to try to squeeze through the circular plastic lid. Once through, the hedgehogs’ spine prevents them from being able to release themselves and death is almost certain, either by dehydration or hunger, or by stumbling blindly into ponds or roads. However, a quiet campaign by the British Hedgehog Conservation Society, with a membership of only 12,000, has forced the multi-national McDonald’s to part with a large, undisclosed sum, to change the packaging to be more hedgehog friendly. The society insisted that its members wrote to McDonald’s in a polite way with one website writing: “never criticise the company. Always show the utmost respect … Do NOT write angry, threatening or sarcastic letters. Do NOT use foul language.” The new McFlurry lid will now have an in-built aperture so hedgehogs can extricate themselves.
www.telegraph.co.uk 16th September 2010
Lincolnshire County Council have taken Sainsbury’s to court for using too much packaging. The charges relate to regulations established in 2003 under the government’s Courtauld Commitment in an attempt to minimise damage to the environment caused by excess packaging. Up until the Sainsbury’s case only five other cases have been brought to court and all have involved small companies. This is the first time a major retailer has been charged and, if successful, Sainsburys face a fine of between £500 and £3000. The offending item seems to be a piece of meat that did not meet the essential legal requirements overseen by Lincolnshire’s trading standards officers. Sainsbury’s and packaging charities alike are surprised by the announcement as the supermarket has previously had a good track record when it came to reducing their impact on the environment (it won Best Volume Supermarket in this year’s Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards).
Sources: The National Geographic Summer Edition 2010
Supermarkets are experimenting with using lighter glass bottles for certain wines. The move is being promoted by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and has caused Tesco to launch ‘the lightest ever wine bottle’. Weighing in at 300g (the average is 500g) the bottle will reduce the company’s annual glass usage by 560 tonnes. Its usage is currently limited to Tesco’s own Australian Red Non-Vintage wines. Waitrose, too, released their own Virtue wines last year. The bottles consist of 60% recycled glass and are lighter than the average bottle. The wine is also shipped in bulk (currently from Chile) with all bottling taking place in the UK. There are certain hurdles that have to be overcome in the future though. Heavy bottles tend to be viewed as being more upmarket and prestigious. Furthermore, much of the wine sold in supermarkets is bottled outside of the UK and tightly controlled by local laws (such as the Appellation d’Origine Controlee).