It’s great that recycling, or rather the poor design that prevents it, has made headline news. On the back of the Paris Agreement, which unites all Nations in trying to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recycling has been thrust into the limelight due to the proposed target of recycling 70% of waste by 2030.
Recycling is a relatively easy thing for you and I to do in order to help manage climate change (which is a naturally occurring phenomenon that we can’t prevent, but which we can manage our contribution to). Recycling waste to make new products uses up to 80% less energy that using virgin materials, and it also helps prevent the pollution of our oceans, land and groundwater.
So it's really positive to see organisations such as Pringles, who are making recycling harder through the design of the their products (e.g. the foil lined cardboard tube), being called out. Pringles’ owner Kelloggs have responded by saying that the packaging Pringles come in extends their shelf life and so prevents food waste. I don’t buy it - have you ever had a box of pringles that have past their 'Use By' date and not still eaten them?! Seriously though, how long does the packaging need to keep Pringles fresh for?
Let's give this some context. Due to changing weather patterns caused by climate change (which I, like most people without a vested interest in denying it, believe in), some people are being displaced from their homes, often due to too much water (regular severe flooding) or too little (extended droughts). In other parts of the world some people have to suffer crisps that have gone a little soft after 6 weeks. Soft crisps does not justify displacement and death.
It’s great that Pringles and Lucozade are being called out by the UK Recycling Association, and that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Ideo is running a design competition to address pollution and packaging design, but what are you doing? Are you thinking about what you buy - are you buying products with less packaging, that are durable and can be repaired? Are you taking a little more care with your recycling so that it doesn’t get rejected by your local authority?
If we all give the products we buy (or rent if we can) and the waste we create a little more thought, and take a little more action, then this will quickly add up to make a huge difference. And we need to make a huge difference because it’s a huge problem, but one that, together, we can solve.
Written by Jon Walker, Founder of dwiss