Highlights from the second Waste Campaign meeting: Zero Waste, plastics as main focus and first steps – surveying local food take-away businesses

8th November 2017
event
report

Following June’s meeting during which we identified six potential campaign goals, we held a meeting with the aim to discuss these ideas to narrow down our focus further and start working towards our goals.

Public engagement – building up website and developing resources

We are already working towards our first goal ‘public engagement and educational work’ as we are currently building up campaign’s website and developing resources for it. The aim of it is to provide the general framework for our campaign through presenting our values and goals. We intend to familiarise people with the problem of waste through awareness raising (often asking them to consider their own everyday experience with waste) and importantly, offering solutions that in our opinion are viable and sustainable. Our values and goals provide us a framework through which we are going to engage with people about the issue of waste on social media, at stalls, in public and at schools.

Zero Waste as a guiding framework for the campaign

Our overarching guiding framework is Zero Waste. Being both a philosophy and a practical solution to the problem of waste, Zero Waste promotes waste reduction and prevention with the goal to eliminate waste altogether. Ideally, all the materials and items that are discarded by someone are resources for others, imitating natural cycles. This is achieved by making all the products reusable, recyclable or compostable and restructuring production and distribution processes.The philosophy and practice of Zero Waste is adopted and promoted by various organisations, businesses and individuals around the world.

Plastics as our main campaign focus

After agreeing that the main philosophy guiding our work is going to be Zero Waste, we chose plastics as our main campaign focus This is the most problematic material and category of waste with small percentage of it currently being recycled or reused and a lot of it ending up in landfills and incinerators. Both landfilling and incineration go against Zero Waste principles by ending the life-cycle of materials without further utilization. Also, landfilling and incineration exacerbate climate change through greenhouse gas emissions and incinerators emit dangerous toxins harmful to human health and natural environment. Furthermore, a lot of plastics end up in rivers, oceans and beaches causing increasingly dangerous and visible plastic pollution and damage to wildlife.

We considered two potential ways we would be able to tackle plastic pollution by campaigning on reduction of the use of plastic packaging and plastic single-use items. First, we would like to see supermarkets significantly reducing their currently unrecyclable plastic packaging and using more sustainable biodegradable cardboard options instead. Although campaign on this scale would potentially have great impact and outcomes, it would require engaging with big supermarket chains on the national scale, for which we currently lack lobbying power and resources. However, we agreed that another and much more achievable way of tackling the plastics problem for us would be to engage with local food and drinks take-away businesses in Manchester to push them to give up non-recyclable food trays, straws, cutlery and drinks cups and adopt sustainable alternatives.

Therefore, over the next few weeks we will go around Manchester to get an overview of current situation at various take-away businesses, observing which items/materials are presently used and whether green alternatives are considered or used. This will be the first step towards starting a conversation with take-away businesses to encourage them to adopt sustainable single-use items and packaging. Importantly, as we need to present those businesses environmentally sustainable alternatives to plastic trays, cutlery and cups, we will research those alternatives, considering both environmental and cost-effective aspects.

The next meeting will take place on the 1st of August at Green Fish. We will discuss our findings at various Manchester take-aways and consider green alternatives to plastic packaging and items supporting the goal of Zero Waste.

Come along if you’re interested in getting involved!