World Earth Day 2021
If ever there was a time for reflection, it’s now. In a year where we have lived (and continue to live) through a deadly global pandemic, devastating wildfires across several continents and one of the most brutal hurricane seasons, we all need a reason to be positive. The theme of World Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore Our Earth’ and thankfully at its heart is optimism.
Covid-19 has had an impact on all our lives in some form, some more devasting than others. It has also had an impact on our World, including environmental factors, such as air quality which appears to influence the outcome of those who contract Covid-19 and we have also seen an increased reliance on single-use plastics in a bid to help reduce infection rates. Thankfully, there are also some unexpected positive impacts, such as reduced emissions, increased air quality and even the traditionally murky canals in Venice began to get clearer. These are positives but experts predict them to be short-lived and as travel restrictions are eased and tourism returns, pollution will also return.
This may seem too big a fight to win but I don’t accept that. There is a huge push across the globe on increased packaging regulations and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) including eco-modulated fees and Plastic Taxes. Ok, I accept this isn’t the complete answer but let’s be optimistic, it is a start and the first step is always the hardest, right?
Packaging remains in the headlights, even though there are so many contributors to pollution and depletion of natural resources. There will be many who believe a packaging circular economy can’t happen until we have a robust and consistent waste management infrastructure. England has a surprisingly poor, sporadic at best, infrastructure however there are plans for consistent waste collection. Thankfully, we don’t have to look that far for inspiration, Wales hold the prestigious 3rd position in global household recycling with many items consistently collected across the country including glass, paper, card, metal cans and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. While top spot is held by Germany, South Korea closely follow.
Unfortunately, there are many countries who operate with less sophisticated infrastructures; however they too are committing to change. India have announced they will phase out single-use plastics by 2022, Asia have doubled their sustainability funds for the second year in a row, some US states are leading the charge on post-consumer recycled content.
Some may say the pandemic has slowed down sustainable developments, I think we have all done an amazing job of dealing with adversity.
Think what we could achieve if we applied the same urgency to saving our planet
I’m sure we have all seen documentaries about climate change, pollution and even Seaspiracy. We all have our own views and beliefs and I for one believe I can make a difference. I might not be able to stop the Alaskan glacier from moving 50 -100 times quicker than normal, or can I? Maybe lifestyle changes, advising clients on more sustainable strategies, consumer education, reducing waste… all added together make a difference. If I can encourage a few more people to adapt, and they do the same… maybe together WE can make a real difference.
There are always reasons (and excuses) not to change, why not make World Earth Day 2021 a reason for positive change and make a real contribution to Restoring Our Earth?
About the author
Gillian Garside-Wight - Sustainability Partner
Gillian leads our consulting offer, with over 20 years’ experience in the print and packaging industry, strategically developing packaging strategies, roadmaps and packaging solutions to meet the needs of clients and consumers / end users. She has worked with a number of global retailers and household brands on projects spanning sustainability and innovation to supply chain optimisation. With a real passions for sustainable packaging, her quest is to inform and drive a circular economy wherever possible while complementing creativity and technical functionality but never forgetting commercial requirements.
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- European Environment Agency (EEA)