Single-use plastics continue to lose their appeal as the global community rallies around the concept of a circular economy. The UK, in particular, is taking the lead, setting a new standard for both the public and private sector, while food and beverage giant Nestlé is helping ease the transition away from a take-make-dispose model.
Glastonbury Festival is saying sayonara to plastic bottles for its 2019 season. Event organizer Emily Eavis told BBC 6 Music that the festival would implement a site-wide ban on the bottles when it returns next year.
“It’s an enormous project; it’s taking a lot of time to tackle with all the different people we work with,” Eavis said.
The festival has been progressively working towards this goal, introducing free water kiosks and stainless steel bottles during the 2014 season. In 2016, Glastonbury began offering stainless steel pint cups — the same year it rolled out the “Love the farm…leave no trace” initiative. The initiative aims to reduce the environmental impact of the festival by encouraging concert-goers to recycle, use reusable water bottles, carpool to the festival, and other actions.
Glastonbury is on hiatus for 2018 for one of its regular “fallow years” following what was described as one of the worst cleanups in the festival’s history. According to The Guardian, it took volunteers two weeks to clean up the 500,000 sacks of garbage, 57 tons of reusable items and 1,022 tons of recycling left on the 1,000-acre site.
It has been estimated that 1 million plastic bottles are used during the festival each year. The introduction of a site-wide ban on plastic bottles would, therefore, have a considerable impact on the amount of waste generated during the event.
“We want to reduce plastic bottle waste on the festival site but also in people’s daily lives,” the event’s website reads. “Bottled water is a huge source of landfill across the world, in countries where it is not even necessary to drink bottled water because of the quality of the countries’ tap water.”
Banning plastic bottles isn’t the only way Glastonbury is working to reduce its environmental footprint. It has previously experimented with various clean energy technologies to power the event, including the installation of a Pee Power urinal, solar arrays and a mini gym that allowed user to generate energy.
Meanwhile, the Church of England is encouraging Christians to go plastic free for Lent this year.
To help make the transition easier, the Church has created a calendar of actions followers can take to reduce their use of plastic during the 40-day period. The Lent Plastic Challenge includes tips such as using reusable cups, buying in bulk, shopping with reusable bags and buying second-hand clothes. Each week focuses on a different category (kitchen, bathroom, clothing, home, travel, and food and drink), taking a progressive approach to eliminating plastics.
“The Lent challenge is about raising our awareness of how much we rely on single-use plastics and challenging ourselves to see where we can reduce that use,” said Ruth Knight, the Church’s environmental policy officer.
The move has partly been attributed to the BBC’s “Blue Planet II” documentary, which highlighted the threat plastics pose to the health of the world’s oceans. “David Attenborough has recently brought to everyone’s attention the hideous damage being caused by our throwaway society to life in the oceans — where so much of our waste eventually ends up,” the Diocese of London said in a statement.
“Over 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. That’s enough plastic to cover every inch of the UK ankle-deep more than 10 times over. Just 9 percent was recycled.”
The calendar has been sent to the Church’s 42 dioceses with the hope of inspiring as many parishioners as possible to rally around the cause.
While the UK is pushing hard to reduce single-use plastics, Nestlé is working to make the plastics we do use better. Building on its initiatives to reduce waste and reuse materials in packaging across its portfolio of beverages, the company is introducing a 700-mL bottle made from 100 percent recycled plastic (rPET) for its Nestlé Pure Life® Purified Water.
“Nestlé Waters North America is the original bottled water company in the US and environmental sustainability is an integral part of our company’s purpose and heritage,” said Antonio Sciuto, EVP and CMO for Nestlé Waters North America. “This new bottle made from 100 percent recycled plastic for our namesake brand is the latest way we’re satisfying consumer demand for healthy hydration on-the-go and inspiring consumers to recycle.”
Since 2005, the company has reduced the amount of PET plastic in Nestlé Pure Life half-liter bottles by 40 percent. The introduction of the rPET bottles to consumers nationwide complements the company’s efforts to make it easier for consumers to recycle, building on last year’s move to begin adding How2Recycle information on the labels of its major US bottled water brands. The labels include a reminder for consumers to empty the bottles and replace the cap on the bottle before recycling.