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October Waste campaign meeting

event report

We held the October Waste campaign meeting this Wednesday during which we discussed our findings about Manchester take-away businesses and planned future actions. To recap, our campaign focuses on single-use items in local take-aways. The aim is to influence businesses to use sustainable biodegradable containers, cups and cutlery instead of oil-based non-recyclable plastic items.

Findings in Manchester take-aways

The most important point to take away from the take-away research in Manchester is that for businesses the issue of cost-effectiveness is the main obstacle to using environmentally friendly packaging. Namely, biodegradable and compostable paper or bioplastic alternatives are usually around two or three times more expensive than plastic items meaning that to be competitive, the businesses are very likely (and understandably) going to use cheaper, and unfortunately non-sustainable options. Some of the businesses we spoke to said that although they would like to switch to biodegradable packaging, it is not economically viable. Thus, we recognised the issue of cost-effectiveness as one of the main focus points meaning that we need to find ways to make sustainable alternatives cost-effective for businesses.

Moving towards solution: making sustainability cost-effective and researching suppliers

Therefore, to a great extent, making the case for biodegradable packaging is about finding ways to make it cost-effective for businesses. As buying in large quantities is likely to be more cost-effective, we aim is to find a number of independent businesses that would like to commit to sustainability and would be willing to purchase their single-use items together with other businesses with the aim to get a good deal from suppliers. We are going to research and engage with suppliers to learn about market prices and deals for bulk purchasing.

Choosing locality and approaching community: Levenshulme

We decided that the best approach would be to choose a locality in Manchester to focus on and start engaging with local take-away businesses and community simultaneously. By adopting this kind of approach we aim to drive change on the one hand by raising awareness among local people and through that creating popular demand, and on the other hand by engaging with local businesses about the necessity to switch to sustainable materials and about how we as campaigners could support them, importantly finding ways to make sustainability cost-effective. We decided that our campaign is going to focus on the area of Levenshulme. As a starting point, Levenshulme weekly markets offer a good opportunity to engage with local people.

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