Plastic, not so fantastic

16 January 2018 | Liz Bowen

If you are a fan of a certain Mr Attenborough and were as enthralled as I was by the latest series, Blue Planet II, one issue in particular cannot have failed to escape your attention.

In amongst footage of unimaginable creatures from the deep to Olympic-worthy acrobatic crabs, the show highlighted the horrifying effect we are having on our oceans – in particular, the amount of plastic we throw away each year forever lost in the deep blue.

Except it’s not is very much being found by the fish, mammals and other animals living under the sea and having a huge impact on their welfare. Who could fail to be moved by the image of the pilot whale carrying her calf, which had possibly passed away by ingesting its mother’s toxic milk?

Despite the claim being slammed by some as ‘questionable’, there is no doubt about the fact that that one scene has had a huge impact in how we, as a society, now view our use of plastic.

Since the programme aired, Theresa May has already committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 as the Government launched its environmental plan for the next 25 years. While the pledge has been blasted for lacking urgency it is, at least, a pledge in the right direction.

This week has now seen another big announcement from supermarket chain, Iceland, which has promised to remove ALL plastic packaging from its own-brand items within five years – the first supermarket in the world to do so.

The move will see the packaging on 1,400 product lines replaced, with plastic ready meal trays being swapped for British-made wood pulp alternatives and plastic bags being dropped for paper alternatives. Iceland has also already removed plastic disposable straws from its own range.

It is a wonderful promise from Iceland and an announcement that has, understandably, garnered them positive national coverage. Not only that, the news has now put pressure on the other supermarket giants to respond, which, no doubt, their PR teams are only too aware of.

While this isn’t a PR stunt, it’s a great move by Iceland. Nothing captures the public spirit and gets you on side quite like jumping on the proverbial bandwagon, especially in instances like this, where the call for change is making waves (no pun intended).

Well done Iceland, let’s hope the others do indeed feel the ripples and follow suit.