Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Fishing for compliments... & the way forward

April 2013

Given that I live very close to the sea and take regular beach walks, I am only too aware of the amount of plastic detritus that washes up on a daily basis. It wasn’t that long ago that I was building mermaid castles with my toddler and decorating it half with seaweed and half with bottle tops, plastic pen barrels and oddments of rope. So I was impressed, nay delighted, to read of Ecover’s latest initiative which sees waste plastic being collected from the seas around the UK by EU fishermen and sent to the UK for recycling to be re-used in new packaging.

Although there is a degree of irony in fishermen fishing for plastic, the project has also led to a British company, Closed Loop Recycling (CLR), undertaking trials with Ecover for a new type of plastic . Both CLR and Ecover are supporting the Waste Free Oceans (WFO) initiative which aims to reduce floating marine debris on Europe’s coastlines, as well as sending an important anti-litter message to consumers.  The scheme is already backed by several MEPs including Danish MEP Anna Rosbach who is chairwoman of the WFO Foundation.

The WFO project aims to educate all stakeholders in tackling debris on Europe’s coastlines and waters by 2020.  Similar initiatives with a range of corporate sponsors, NGOs, and politicians have already been launched in Belgium, Spain, Germany, Greece and Austria.

Chris Dow, ceo of CLR comments: “The Waste Free Oceans initiative is not simply about cleaning up our oceans of unwanted litter.  It’s about the industry taking responsibility for plastic litter and educating people to take responsibility for their own waste and recycle as much of it as possible, in the knowledge that recyclers like us can maximise this resource.”

Ecover’s involvement in the initiative is part its new ‘Message in our Bottle’ campaign, which will see the company using an entirely new form of fully sustainable and recyclable plastic in 2014.  Chief executive, Philip Malmberg adds: “As manufacturers we’ve got to take responsibility for sustainability very seriously – to take real action on climate change and the damage done by our over-reliance on fossil fuels, creating ‘green’ products that deliver more than a nod to sustainability.”

And that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it? Industry can talk about sustainability – and do sustainable things all for the greater good – but unless it engages with, and impacts on, the man in the street, nothing will drastically change. According to Mike Bellamente, director of Climate Counts, “we need to blow up our tidy little world of ‘green bizzers’ and explore more effective ways of becoming inclusive of the everyday Joe – as in Joe Marketer, Joe Consumer, Joe Investor…” Indeed, until everyone is fully connected to the issues, we can talk until the cows come home. All our views matter and I’d be very interested to hear yours. Please contact me on the email below.

Liz Jones | Europe | Pollution

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