FDBusiness.com

Jonathon Porritt: Sustainable plastics – oxymoronic greenwash, or the face of the future?

 Breaking News
  • Bord Bia’s 2018 Brexit Barometer Results The Irish Government has launched the Bord Bia 2018 Brexit Barometer, a comprehensive survey of 117 Irish food, drink and horticulture companies, representing 48% of the sector’s exporters to the United Kingdom. Over 100 senior industry representatives attended the launch in Bord Bia to hear the report findings. The purpose of the Brexit Barometer is to assess [...]...
  • Cargill Invests in Mouscron Facility to Meet Demand For Belgian Chocolate With the rapid rise in consumer demand for premium, high quality Belgian chocolate, Cargill has invested in a new liquid chocolate production line in its Mouscron production facility in Belgium. This investment increases the company’s capacity to produce milk and dark chocolate and creates up to 10 new local jobs. Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business will [...]...
  • Heineken Makes Biggest Ever Investment in UK Pub Estate Heineken UK is making its largest ever annual investment in Star Pubs & Bars, investing £44 million during 2018. This investment is more than double the figure invested last year (£20 million) and brings Heineken’s total expenditure on pubs to almost £140 millioin over the past five years.Around a quarter of Star’s 2,900 pubs will [...]...
  • New Starter Culture Secures Mild and Creamy Soft Cheeses Chr. Hansen’s latest launch helps cheesemakers to produce soft cheese that maintains the desired taste and texture. The extension to the DVS® SSC series is the latest addition to Chr. Hansen’s soft cheese starter culture range. The product series now consists of four cultures and is designed to create soft cheese with a mild flavor and [...]...
  • TOP Develops Technology Platform For Dairy Farmers TOP from Wageningen in the Netherlands is developing a technology platform that enables dairy farmers to sell bottled milk from individual cows. With the technology it will be possible to pasteurize and package bottles of milk from individual cows. Dutch consumers will soon be able to buy milk from their very own favourite cow. In the [...]...

Jonathon Porritt: Sustainable plastics – oxymoronic greenwash, or the face of the future?

October 02
10:10 2012

Jonathon Porritt of Forum of the Future gives his views on plastics

I love it when I end up in the middle of chunky debates where people hold starkly polarised views – and hold them ever so passionately!

On Friday 21 September, I was giving a talk at a conference organised by Plastics Europe on the future of the plastics industry, and there was a great debate about the role of the industry in building a more sustainable Europe.

Plastics Europe has done a great job getting its members to lift their sights. It’s campaigning for zero plastic waste to landfill by 2020; it already has a strong emphasis on progressive carbon management, and is running an important initiative on marine plastic litter. Marine litter has now reached horrendous levels, not just in terms of visible litter on the surface of the oceans, but the increasingly scary build-up of microscopic levels of pollution in the world’s oceans.

Plastics Europe has run its PolyTalk sessions for the last 3 years specifically to surface lively debates about all these critical issues.

Plastics is an industry caught between a pretty wretched legacy from an environmental point of view (particularly in terms of the build-up of toxins in the environment generally), and an increasingly inspiring approach to the role of sustainability enhancing plastics in construction, healthcare, agriculture, packaging, electronics, energy and the automotive industry.  (To get a sense of what that “innovation pipeline” looks like, have a glance either at Plastics Europe’s “Visions in Polymers” or its “Partner in Sustainable Development” document.  (http://www.plasticseurope.org/)

The EU’s Environment Commissioner, Jan Potochnik, gave an excellent presentation, focusing in particular on the EU’s “Resource Efficiency Roadmap” and its new waste management strategy.  This is the first time I’d met him, and I was really impressed.

But there were no easy answers on offer – and some of the debates (about transparency or the “precautionary principle” or the role of “sound science”) seemed to be stuck in some kind of time warp.  Axel Singhofen (Policy Advisor to the Greens at the European Parliament) eloquently berated the industry for still being excessively defensive, endlessly delaying the phase-out timetable for some of the most problematic compounds.

My bit was to bang the drum about the importance of business/NGO collaborations, to establish the common ground and build real trust, even on tricky things like risk assessment, definitions for toxicity, radical decarbonisation and so on.

I’m still convinced that NGOs have a big role to play here – but I worry sometimes.  I think we ourselves often find a solutions-focused dialogue as hard as business does.  And sometimes we’re not too good at understanding exactly what innovation offers us today, on waste-to-energy technology, for instance.

As I discovered during the conference, all the countries we usually think of as “the greenest” in Europe, (Switzerland, the Scandinavians, Germany, The Netherlands and so on) are today entirely comfortable with modern waste-to-energy technologies.  This includes the use of plastics (for materials that cannot currently be recycled), recovering the calorific value in plastic waste either through state-of-the-art small-scale incineration plants or more advanced gasification plants.

By contrast, our major NGOs here in the UK are still implacably hostile to such technologies, fighting any new proposals (either nationally or locally) with the same tactics used over decades to oppose mass-burn incineration plants.

But things have moved on technologically, and we urgently need to evolve a different approach to the whole waste-to-energy debate if we’re going to drag ourselves off the floor of the league table for percentage of waste diverted from landfill in major EU countries.

Jonathon Porritt is founder director and trustee of Forum of the Future.

This article originally appeared on the Forum for the Future website. Forum for the Future is an independent non-profit who work globally with business and government to inspire new thinking, build creative partnerships and develop practical solutions for a more sustainable future.

About Author

colin

colin

Related Articles



Food & Drink Business Conference & Exhibition 2016

Upcoming Events

  • June 25, 2018Packaged., The 7th Global Summit
  • September 5, 2018Int'l Food Products and Processing Technologies Exhibition (WorldFood Istanbul)
  • September 15, 2018iba
  • September 25, 2018PPMA Show 2018
AEC v1.0.4

find food jobs

The Magazine

F&D Business Preferred Suppliers

New Subscriber





Subscribe Here



Advertisements