Luke Douglas-Home of Clear Public Space Space
A CARBON TAX?
Most plastics are hydrocarbon – so, a carbon tax? Are supermarkets, or food producers to blame for the 59 billion pieces of plastic each year coming from supermarkets in the UK?
Or, actually, neither of them?!
The hundreds of billions of plastic stirrers worldwide contribute to the 59 billion pieces and we look forward to a government charge – the UK government, after consultation, is inching towards a ban and we are looking forward to that.
This was all reported by Elena Polisano (rooftop beekeeper and now the Greenpeace oceans campaigner @greenpeaceuk #EndOceanPlastics) and Sara Baulch (an oceans campaigner for the Environmental Investigations Agency) in London’s Frontline Club in November, 2018, steered by the Times’ Ben Webster.
They delivered a detailed survey of UK grocery retailers and plastic, which said that only around one third of household plastic is recycled (most ends up in the natural environment, in landfill, or being incinerated).
Elena and Sara also asked “Why Plastic? Are we #StirCrazy?” for using plastic stirrers? (as video-ed here)
(They are not #StirCrazy at the Frontline Club – no plastic stirrers for their delicious coffees and spectacularly delicious cocktails.)
However, we argue and ask – are the retailers (@AldiUK @Sainsburys @Tesco @Waitrose&Partners @M&S etc.) really to blame?
Their function is to offer quality, legal food. They do that brilliantly.
It is the function of each food business to produce well packaged, legal food.
Those are their respective businesses.
Why should one strand of this industry take a ‘moral’ stance and subsidise the bad environmental behaviour – but legal – of the other?
Why should anyone in the industry take an environmentally moral stance, when competition is strong and margins are so tight anyhow?
It is up to the government to change the rules of the industry so that it just becomes the expensive option to offer plastic packed food. Alternatives will be found.
And the simplest way (we feel) of doing that is to introduce a carbon tax, which obviously incorporates hydrocarbons.
To do that would need moving on from fixating about plastic bags, straws and stirrers, but recognising plastic polymers (in all their usual forms) for what they really are – hydrocarbons from fossil fuels that have been mined, and now are so ubiquitous that we are actually stirring our drinks with and actually eating and drinking them– fish, mussels and oysters contain plastic microfibres as the marvellous sieves of the beautiful sea, that they are.