Posted By Rob Turner,
26 July 2018
Updated: 26 July 2018
#PledgeLessPlastic: Who Pledged What?
For over forty years, the United Nations has held World Environment Day (WED) annually on the 5th June to promote environmental action and raise awareness of some of the most important problems facing the planet. This year, the global theme was 'beat plastic pollution', an issue that has gained rapid traction over the last year.
By reducing the consumption and disposal of single use plastic, we can decrease the amounts of long-lived pollutants in our oceans and reverse the damage done to ecosystems across the world. To promote this cause, we teamed up with Licensed Body, IEMA, and a selection of their Corporate Members to launch the #PledgeLessPlastic campaign. By pledging to make changes to the way we use plastic as individuals and organisations, we can collectively improve the world we live in. To find out more about what you could do and to help make your pledge, use our dedicated #PledgeLessPlastic toolkit.
The toolkit includes case study examples, editable pledge cards, background information, infographics and more.
Pledges at the SocEnv Awards and Lectures on WED
Many individuals and organisations have already committed to #PledgeLessPlastic and reduce their impact on the planet. Here's just a selection of those pledges:
Graham Powell CEnv
Before picking up the 2018 Environmental Professional of the Year Award at our WED event on the 5th June, Graham, a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) through the Institute of Water, and his wife Ros, had time to make his own pledge to reduce his plastic usage. Anglian Water may "Love Every Drop", but Graham has helpfully amended his employer's slogan for his pledge to not use single-use plastic bottles. A numerous delegates stepped up and also made a pledge on the evening - we will be posting these pledges on the Society for the Environment Twitter page over the next week or so - now is the time to follow us!
Plus, following WED, Anglian Water became the first water company to announce a "radical commitment to rid the East of England of plastic waste by 2030". That's quite a pledge! Find out more here.
Dougal Driver CEnv
Dougal is a Chartered Environmentalist, the Vice Chair of the Society and CEO of Grown in Britain. He had the opportunity to speak about the #PledgeLessPlastic campaign on WED at our Awards and Lectures event. The video above is set up to begin with Dougal discussing his pledge to launch a research programme into homegrown forest alternatives to plastic products (8 minutes in).
Pledges from Across the UK
The #PledgeLessPlastic campaign has been taken up by many different organisations and individuals beyond our Awards and Lectures on WED. Here's how they've helped to spread awareness and pledged to do their bit in reducing plastic waste:
Hertfordshire County Council
For Hertfordshire County Council, #PledgeLessPlastic has meant an end to the use of single-use plastic cups and cutlery in their restaurants and coffee bars. Each of them have their own pledge card, showing different parts of their pledge. Our dedicated toolkit has an adaptable template that you can download and use to make your own pledge card(s). Remember to take a picture and share on social media using #PledgeLessPlastic to inspire others!
Mihai, Prabu, Harry, Shane, James and Josh were the team that won VCG Group's #PledgeLessPlastic team prize. Working on CrossRail, they have pledged to switch from disposable single-use bottles to the reusable ones shown in the photo. The VCG team weren't the only workers in orange high-vis gear to get behind the campaign - workers at Emico also got involved and pledged to give up plastic bags, straws, cups and bottles.
The aim was to make the plastic problem more visible to more people, so these examples have gone above and beyond!
Sandra Norval CEnv
Sandra utilised the power of video in Westminster to highlight her new business's commitment to not using single-use plastics. This has allowed Bluedotaug to have elimination of single use plastic as one of its founding principles, helping to build the business on a foundation of sustainable working. Sandra and her business partner are also requesting data to aid the development of their visualisation software - visit bluedotaug.com to contact Sandra if interested in taking part.
The Pledges Just Keep Coming
Above we have pledges from start ups, award winners, large companies, county councils and CEO's - but there's more:
Find more by searching #PledgeLessPlastic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The need to reduce plastic waste doesn't stop at World Environment Day - it's a long term thing! We want you to keep pledging and lead the way in making a difference to our environment. Find out more, pledge and share using our online toolkit today!
For World Environment Day 2018 we asked you to commit to reducing harmful plastics using the hashtag #PledgeLessPlastic and/or inspire others with a good practice case study that had a positive impact on the use of plastics (with a focus on single use plastics).
However, Chartered Environmentalist Andrew Marlow went beyond this with extraordinary efforts to produced a collection of nine vlogs for World Environment Day! These vlogs (short, informative videos) were all based on the plastic waste problem, but they also offered solutions in order to form an educational collection of videos.
We have uploaded the first three of these videos to the Society for the Environment YouTube channel, but the following six can be found by clicking on the playlist button on our channel. The first three vlogs can also be viewed below:
Willmott Dixon Group Environment Manager and Chartered Environmentalist, Martin Ballard, tells us how by working together we can make a difference this World Environment Day.
World Environment Day (WED) provides us with an opportunity to take action - and we have much to celebrate with improvements in our environment.
Making an impact
It’s not about just one day. We’re asking friends, colleagues and communities to consider what they can each do to play their part in tackling our love/hate for plastics - to challenge each to take a pledge, take action and take time to feedback, using the hashtag #pledgelessplastic.
My pledge is to challenge why and how we use plastics and work with suppliers and organisations to reuse materials directly or indirectly in their value chain.
Let's get back to the plastic problem…
Is the root cause of the problem the material or how it’s used? As with many readily available low-cost materials, the value given to plastic can be seen in how it is readily thrown away in the hedgerows and verges alongside our roads, railways, canals and streams. The pathway of plastic pollution is horrifically clear to see, from our communities, windblown or weather beaten into micro fragments to drains and watercourses.
The EAUC (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges) has kindly shared their response to the HM Treasury consultation ‘Tackling the plastic problem: using the tax system or charges to address single-use plastic waste - May 2018’. With the obvious link to the theme for World Environment Day 2018 (Beat Plastic Pollution), we thought you'd be interested in having a read:
Click here to download the EAUC consultation response.
Click here to find out more and get involved with #PledgeLessPlastic for World Environment Day 2018.
Click here to download the World Environment Day #PledgeLessPlastic case study template.
Thank you for contributing to the #PledgeLessPlastic project.
World Environment Day, which takes place on June 5, is an event designed to raise awareness of what can be done to protect our environment – as individuals or collectively – and what action can be taken at a local, national or global level. Plastic pollution is the theme of the event this year.
John Baxter is the Asset Governance Manager at E.ON Business Heat and Power Solutions, fellow of SOE, IPlantE and is a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Chartered Member of IOSH (CMIOSH) and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv).
"We’ve already started our single-use plastics initiative – polystyrene boxes, tea cups, salad bowls, sandwich boxes, cutlery - they’re already been changed to recyclable, plant-based materials, so we’re moving it forward very quickly. Also, we’ve been able to reduce our landfill to zero, which has been a long-term target; it has been very difficult to do. So, we either recover it for energy or recycle it for other purposes."
The group has some big emissions proposals, too; it is targeting a 30% reduction of CO2 emissions (based on 2016 values) by 2030 and a 50% reduction of CO2 intensity per customer by 2030. A further commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2050 is also a target.
"We are already well under way to achieve this – partly due to our Uniper operation owning the largest emitters. We have so much more than a conventional operation now; it means we are better placed to meet these targets. Many of our competitors that are still operating large conventional generation will have more difficulties in meeting these targets. Because we’ve got the new industrial emissions directive, and the new standards/BAT (best available techniques), the guidelines that the Environmental Agency are making us follow (Environmental Permitting Regulations) means that over time the emission limits will reduce anyway. It will mean that older, less-efficient generation will have to be phased out. It just won’t be cost effective to retrofit everything up to the same efficiency levels," concluded John.