Stop Talking About Consumer Waste, Start Talking About Producer Waste

Jun 13, 2018 Global News

This article first appeared in Natural Products Global, part of Diversified’s global natural & organic network. Written by Jim Manson.

UK environmental activist and MP Zac Goldsmith says that in the fight against plastic pollution, the responsibility should be placed squarely on the shoulders of producers.

Speaking in an interview with Michael Wale at Natural & Organic Products Europe last month, Goldsmith said that although he was happily surprised by the UK Government’s recent move towards banning single-use plastics such as straws and cotton buds, ‘we’re miles away from where we need to be’. “I’m excited at some of the bold and brash things we’re seeing under Michael Gove (environment secretary) in relation to plastic, but it is just a pimple on the body of what we need to see if we’re going to really eliminate plastic waste. And that’s action we need to see right across the board. 

“We talk about consumer waste, but when you put your bins out, it’s not consumer waste – most people don’t want to buy a sprig of parsley encased in a tonne of plastic. That’s producer waste. The onus has to go on producers if we’re going to start eliminating that waste.”

He added that if a plastic can’t be recycled it shouldn’t be on the market. “We know alternatives exist, so let’s ban them. Let’s say in eight months time or in 12 months time you can’t sell coffee cups if they can’t easily be recycled. We are taking giant steps relative to previous governments, but they’re still baby steps relative to what we need to see if we’re going to solve this problem.”

In the same interview, Goldsmith praised Gove’s work within UK Government’s environment and agriculture department Defra. “I think a lot of people are surprised by what we’ve seen from Michael Gove. It’s quite extraordinary. He’s done more as secretary of state for the environment than perhaps all his predecessors combined, and all in a very short period of time. It has been a surprise, but nevertheless a pleasure working with him in the last few months.”

He added: “I wonder sometimes if people had known how revolutionary Michael Gove would be in the very short time that he’s been at Defra if he would have got the job. And I suspect he probably wouldn’t have. If people had known just how active he was going to be I think he would have been put somewhere else because he has upset the applecart.”

About the author: Jim Mason

Jim Manson is editor-in-chief of Diversified Communications UK‘s natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, and World Bank Urban Age.

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