At this week’s Business breakfast, a monthly meeting organised by the Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce, we were invited to explore how far down the supply chain we could influence issues such as human rights and environmental best practice. Individuals can make personal choices about our shopping habits; business can check their supplier’s ethical policy but ultimately businesses usually follow government law or maybe public demand. Hopefully public demand or awareness influences government so much that they legislate for change.
The screening of ‘A Plastic Ocean’ this week graphically showed an issue that has fired up many people to demand a change. The Blue Planet 2 programme really shocked many into action and so did this film… who wouldn’t be shocked by the piles of plastic waste washed up in Pacific island communities or sea birds that die due to the masses of bits of plastic in their guts bunging them up and leaking toxins into their bodies? Plastic takes lifetimes to degrade and when we throw it away we have to ask ourselves ‘where is away?’. There are solutions but most are more expensive than out of site out of mind.
Frome Town, Mendip and Somerset councils have all agreed to stop their use of single use plastic. Frome Town council is also working with cafes, pubs and bars to encourage them to do the same but just changing to a bio-degradable plastic isn’t then end of the problem it seems. The plastic we carefully put in the recycling bin can still end up in land fill or shipped abroad to be burned rather than being reprocessed into something useful.
Our best bet is to reduce the amount of plastic we use. Businesses and governments need to speed up finding solutions to what we do with it once we have used it!