Tag Archives: plastics

Thinking Outside the “Plastic” Box

single use pollution

Single-use plastic packaging is clogging up the oceans and overwhelming landfill sites.  Alternatives that are both sustainable and recyclable are under development but the need a boost to become economically viable and more mainstream.

Global plastic production had mushroomed from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes only 4 years ago.  It is expected that this figure will double in the next few decades and by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum, there could potentially be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

Unfortunately, despite the moves to encourage recycling of plastic waste, a substantial amount of plastic packaing is uneconomical to recover, reuse or recycle.  So we need to be lookng for materials with a large range of properties that make them viable alternatives to unrecyclable plastic.

Here are 5 sustanable and affordable packaging alternatives:-

Edible films and wraps.  These starch-based products have been around for a while, but at the US Department of Agriculture, they are now developing a film made of milk protein.  In South Korea they have been looking at animal protein.

edible fims


Algae-based packaging.  If you boil up seaweed you get a gelatinous substance called agar.  This can be used to create textures that can replicate bubble wrap and foam packaing.  This is currently being pioneered by researchers in Japan, Lithuania and Spain.

algae based packaging

Mushroom-based containers.  Grown from agricultural by-products, this so called myco-foam is produced from mycelium a fungal network of threadlike cells, which are like the roots of mushrooms.  Ecovative in the United States is at the forefront of this technology.  Swedish retain giants, Ikea are looking at using this type of packaing to replace polystyrene, which is tricky to recycle.  Whilst polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium can simply be thrown into the ground where it will biodegrade in a matter of weeks.

mushroom based packaging

Cellulose, fibre and resin.  Bananas,coconut, softwood forestry by-products, as well as grasses and cereal stalks all have the potential to become bioplastics.  Some materials can be heated, melted and injected into moulds which is crucial if they are to compete with petroleum-based plastics.

cellulose packaging

Plant-based polymers.  Biopolymers can be made from corn or potato starch, even sugarcane.  Long molecular chains such as polylactic acid can be deried from annually renewable resources.  A number of companies from New Zealand to Thailand produce this.


Currently 95% of plastic packaging has only a short one-use life cycle.  It is used and then thrown away and results in a loss to the global economy of more than $80 billion a year – according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

One of the biggest challenges is getting manufacturers to move away from the old, familiar products.  New packaging is not necessarily more expensive to produce, in the long term, but as with any new product, the initial costs are in the start up when economies of scale have not yet kicked in.

This is where YOU come into the equation.  As a customer of any store or company using plastic packaging you hold a very important piece of the puzzle – you buy their products and if the customer is always right then if enough customers DEMAND that alternatives to plastic packaging is found then the companies WILL supply it.  It only takes one major brand to announce a policy change and others will follow.

Make your voice heard NOW!



How Healthy Are We?

Earth Day 2017 is on Saturday April 22nd.

Diet and exercise define our body shape and can determine our future health.  To stay healthy, we think about what we eat or drink and take action on how much.  Likewise the health of the Earth is determined by how we treat it – whether we feed it properly or starve it of resrouces; whether we work out or let it go flabby?


We can damage our bodies by overeating and also by undereating.  We also damage the Earth if we strip it of the natural resources it needs to thrive – such as the Rainforests.  If we continue to strip away the Rainforests at the current rate of 32 million acres per year we will increase the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere by 20% (according to figures from WWF).

Oceans are under threat from us feeding it with our pollution which not only affects the sealife but also enters the food chain and ultimately affects us.  Global warming also affects the availability of fresh, clean water for human, animals and agriculture.

Coral reefs (the rainforests of the oceans) are critical marine habitats – but oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

coral_58171_360124We exercise to keep our bodies functioning efficiently.  The Earth needs protection from the Sun’s harmful ultra violet rays to carry on functioning efficiently.  It is more than 20 years since scientists discovered a gaping hole in the ozone layer.  The efforts made to ban or reduce harmful chemicals have initiated a gradaul recovery of this hole; but like exercise, once you stop it’s so easy to fall back into bad habits.

Finally, we all need sleep to stay healthy as a lack of sleep leads to fatigue, lowers your immunity making you more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.   The Earth is increasingly fatigued as we drain it of resources without allowing it to replenish itself.


Overfishing of the oceans has a devastating impact not only on the supplies of food for us all but also on the economies of the coastal communities that depend upon this resource.  We cannot continue to take more fish out of the ocean than can be replaced.  We also cannot continue to ignore the Earth’s fatigue when we choose to use fossil fuels instead of exploring renewal energy sources.

pv panels
photovoltaic solar panels

We sustain our body by nurturing it and looking after it – and many of us take pride in doing so.  Does not the planet that we live on and depend upon for our very existence deserve the same consideration?


We all have a part to play in this endeavour – just like the choices we make in our everyday lives have an impact on our own health – other choices we make have an impact on the health of the planet.  You can choose to buy foods that have come from a sustainable source, or you can choose to reduce your use of plastic bottles and bags – simple steps and achievable.  Just like going to the gym, you start off slowly and gradually build yourself up until staying healthy is a way of life and you can’t imagine ever living any other way.

Without a healthy Earth there isn’t a healthy anything!

Happy #EarthDay2017



Ryan’s Recycling – Making Waste Worthwhile!

At Green Waste Enterprises, one of our core values is to promote recycling and to educate people about the benefits of it for the environment.  We have campaigned long and hard to reach this goal.

We were totally blown away, therefore to find out about 6-year-old Ryan Hickman from San Juan Capistrano, California.  If there is one thing he loves, it’s sorting. So when, at the tender age of 3, his parents, let him come along to return some water bottles at a recycling center, he was thrilled to help.

“He likes to sort pretty much anything, and he liked putting the bottles in the machine,” Damion, said in a recent interview with The Capistrano Dispatch. “He probably got two or three bucks, and he was so excited about it. And of course then he got to sort his change, so that meant more sorting.”

There was no stopping Ryan after this and as soon as they got home Ryan told his Dad that he wanted to collect everyone’s recyclables.  He even got his Mom and Dad to hand out garbage bags to all his neighbors.

ryans recycling 2

That was the beginning of Ryan’s Recycling Company, established in 2012 in the family’s backyard. In the past 4 years he has already earned more than $10,000 by collecting cans and bottles from about 40 “customers” in five different neighborhoods.

Of course, being only 6 years old Ryan has to rely on his parents, grandmother and aunt to drive him around to collect his recyclables.  Ryan’s sorting facility consists of eight large trash cans that he sorts containers into—bottles and cans, plastics and glass, they all have their place. Ryan has learnt the difference between the types of recyclables and why it is important to keep trash separated.   Then every few weeks they visit the recycling center to cash in his hoard.

ryans recycling3

Since starting his business, Ryan has recycled 49,000 pounds of waste, 200,000 cans and bottles and has donated over $1,600 to charity.  The rest of his earnings have gone straight into a college savings account.

In a YouTube video posted last July, Ryan’s Dad asks if other people should start recycling to help save the earth.  He knows how important it is to keep trash out of our oceans to protect the environment and also the creatures that live in and around the oceans.  He worries that the birds at the beach might eat the trash and get sick or die.

Ryan is an example to us all.  If just one little boy can have get this much done, just imagine what we could achieve if WE ALL did just a fraction of what Ryan does.

“He’s very passionate about it, and he likes to get everybody else passionate about it as well,” his Mom said. “I think he’s rubbed off on all of us now. You find yourself walking past a can on the ground and needing to pick it up instead of walking away and leaving it there.”

This is exactly what we are trying to promote at Green Waste Enterprises.  Ryan has shown that if you start young enough, then recycling just becomes a way of life.  He doesn’t recycle because his Dad told him to do it……….he does it because he knows it is the right thing to do……….and he understands the benefits of it.  Well done Ryan……….



with thanks to Allison Jarrell, Capistrano Dispatch



Plastic bag bans are spreading in the United States

Los Angeles rang in the 2014 New Year with a ban on the distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter of big retailers, making it the largest of the 132 cities and counties around the United States with anti-plastic bag legislation. And a movement that gained momentum in California is going national. More than 20 million Americans live in communities with plastic bag bans or fees. Currently 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year—almost one bag per person each day. Laid end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times. But this number will soon fall as more communities, including large cities like New York and Chicago, look for ways to reduce the plastic litter that blights landscapes and clogs up sewers and streams.

The following “mockumentary” narrated by Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons tells of the “amazing” journey of a plastic bag from the supermarket checkout until it finally reaches the ocean and becomes yet another part of the Great Pacific Gyre.

While now ubiquitous, the plastic bag has a relatively short history. Invented in Sweden in 1962, the single-use plastic shopping bag was first popularized by Mobil Oil in the 1970s in an attempt to increase its market for polyethylene, a fossil-fuel-derived compound. Many American customers disliked the plastic bag when it was introduced in 1976, disgusted by the checkout clerks having to lick their fingers when pulling the bags from the rack and infuriated when a bag full of groceries would break or spill over. But retailers continued to push for plastic because it was cheaper and took up less space than paper, and now a generation of people can hardly conceive of shopping without being offered a plastic bag at the checkout counter.

The popularity of plastic grocery bags stems from their light weight and their perceived low cost, but it is these very qualities that make them unpleasant, difficult, and expensive to manage. Over one third of all plastic production is for packaging, designed for short-term use. Plastic bags are made from natural gas or petroleum that formed over millions of years, yet they are often used for mere minutes before being discarded to make their way to a dump or incinerator—if they don’t blow away and end up as litter first. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic bags could drive a car for a mile.

In landfills and waterways, plastic is persistent, lasting for hundreds of years, breaking into smaller pieces and leaching out chemical components as it ages, but never fully disappearing. Animals that confuse plastic bags with food can end up entangled, injured, or dead. Recent studies have shown that plastic from discarded bags actually soaks up additional pollutants like pesticides and industrial waste that are in the ocean and delivers them in large doses to sea life. The harmful substances then can move up the food chain to the food people eat. Plastics and the various additives that they contain have been tied to a number of human health concerns, including disruption of the endocrine and reproductive systems, infertility, and a possible link to some cancers.

This is where YOU can get involved……….by signing our petition to #BanPlasticBags.  It’s very easy and only involves a couple of clicks.  You can sign using either your Facebook or Twitter account and share share share!!!!!  We want to get enough signatures to take it to government to get single use plastic bags banned completely.  Many places have introduced a tax/levy on each bag but whilst the money raised may be used for worthwhile causes, we want the option of having these bags taken away completely.

Click here to sign our petition

California—with its long coastline and abundant beaches where plastic trash is all too common—has been the epicenter of the U.S. movement against plastic bags. San Francisco was the first American city to regulate their use, starting with a ban on non-compostable plastic bags from large supermarkets and chain pharmacies in 2007. As part of its overall strategy to reach “zero waste” by 2020 (the city now diverts 80 percent of its trash to recyclers or composters instead of landfills), it extended the plastic bag ban to other stores and restaurants in 2012 and 2013. Recipients of recycled paper or compostable bags are charged at least 10ȼ, but—as is common in cities with plastic bag bans—bags for produce or other bulk items are still allowed at no cost. San Francisco also is one of a number of Californian cities banning the use of polystyrene (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) food containers, and it has gone a step further against disposable plastic packaging by banning sales of water in plastic bottles in city property.


Guanabara Bay Pollution #Rio2016

Guanabara Bay is the largest bay in the world by water volume and is a popular place for touring boats to sail.  The bay commands breathtaking views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and will be the home for sailing events at the Olympic Games starting shortly in Brazil.

As well as Rio, there are several major ports in the Bay area which bring their own environmental costs to the area with major oil spillages that have affected the area for many years (the last one being in 2000 and which is still being cleaned up).  The Bay once held a health ecosystem, large fishing stock and clean beaches, but deforestation and urban development have left the area littered with debris.

50,000 Descend Upon Rio De Janeiro For Rio+20 Earth Summit

The release of raw sewage remains a major pollution problem for Guanabara’s water. Most of the 55 rivers that flow into the Bay have been declared ‘dead’ by scientists. Tonnes of stinking sewage from Rio’s millions of residents pour into the Bay untreated every day.

As part of the latest ‘Clean Guanabara’ plan announced by the government, when planning for the 2016 Olympics, seven new sewage treatment plants were promised. Disappointingly though, only one plant is in operation. Meanwhile, sports people training for the Rio Olympic sailing events increasingly report falling ill after capsizing their boats here.  International Olympic sailing competitors have complained, during recent training, of falling ill after swallowing some of the polluted waters whilst trying to avoid plastic debris and dead animals floating in the waters.  As well as these health hazards, discarded plastic bags can wrap themselves around the boats’ rudders which can be a setback in a sport where speed is of the essence.

sailing rio

Below is the official view of the Environment Secretary for Rio State – Andre Correa from an interview given on June 29th:

Q: Can you swim in the bay?

A: It depends on the location. There are places where you can swim. I swam in the area where the sailing will be. There was major work, a 1.2-billion-reais project ($356 million) but it’s not obvious to ordinary people. I think we have to take small steps. Knowing the financial difficulties of Brazil, whoever said the bay will be clean in less than 20, 25 years is lying.

Q: The pollution of Guanabara Bay has been on the official agenda since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. What’s gone wrong?

A: There was a major error in strategy and communication. There was an investment of about 2.5 billion reais ($741 million) and the local people were told that with this funding, the bay would be clean. Those who understand this issue know that this isn’t enough funding to overcome the challenges. We will have a clean bay the day the 15 municipalities bordering it have sewage treatment. Studies show that’s going to require 15 billion reais ($4.4 billion), and we’re far from that goal. Brazil is having a financial crisis and Rio state doesn’t have the money. That’s why the government decided to seek help from the private sector.

Q: The Baia Viva environmental activist group says the pollution in the bay can cause disease. Should athletes be worried?

A: The bay is not a homogeneous body of water, it has various problems. But the water quality at the entrance of the bay, where the sailing competitions will be held, meets international standards. You can swim there. Water flows in from the sea. The major challenge as concerns the Olympics is floating waste. It’s a major problem that we face. The most important thing — more important than removing waste — is preventing it from getting there. We have installed 15 barriers and there will be 17 in place during the Games, eliminating 280 tons of waste per month. But we need people to realize that when they throw a plastic bottle on the ground, the rain will carry it to the bay and no government or investment can combat that. Environmental education is crucial.

Q: How much of the bay has been decontaminated? The authorities have said they would clean up 80 percent of the pollution, but on Tuesday the mayor said it would be 60 percent. Which is correct?

A: There was a big misunderstanding, resulting in a deficit in credibility. There was talk about objectives but there was no financial support for attaining them. I will not cite any specific rate. It is necessary that the regional government and the people refer to the same rate. In cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank and researchers, we are in the process of launching a digital platform so everyone can follow in real time what’s being done with the investments in the bay.

Q: Who’s responsible?

A: Brazil has a federal system. Various agencies are involved in managing the bay. Municipalities deal with waste. The Navy, a federal agency, is responsible for surface pollution. I’m responsible for industrial waste. We need a model to work in a coordinated manner in the bay.

rio rubbish.jpg


World Oceans Day 2016 – Be Part of the Solution

I'm taking the challenge
I’m taking the challenge
We would like to invite you to get involved in World Oceans Day which is taking place on June 8th. This year’s theme for 2016 is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”. No matter where you live you can help to keep our Oceans free of plastic pollution by making your pledge to take The Better Bag Challenge.
The challenge is simple – you just have to pledge to STOP using single use plastic bags. It is almost unbelievable that a single use plastic bag is most likely to be used for only 15 minutes to transport shopping from the supermarket to the car and then from the car into the house – it’s life is then over!!

If you have already taken the challenge and stopped using disposable plastic bags then let us know about it – be PROUD!! We would like to know if you have done anything more to help reduce the amount of plastics ending up in the oceans such as refusing to buy cosmetic products that contain microbeads or stopping using disposable plastic drinks bottles. Perhaps you have signed up for a local beach clean – we want to hear.
Fill in the details of how you intend to rise to this challenge and whereabouts you live (just the country/region, nothing too specific).  We would love to be able to track action that is being taken across the Globe.


Save The Ocean from Plastics (S.T.O.P.)


save the oceans from plastic
Save The Oceans from Plastic

Cooking up a Plastic Soup – plastic trash has a reputation for being indestructible – but in the ocean it’s not – it breaks down……….and down………….and down!!!

albatross chick killed by plastic trash
Destruction of birds

44% of all seabirds eat plastics – by mistake – sometimes with fatal effects.  Fish and other sea creatures also eat these tiny pieces of plastic which then become part of the food chain – which ends up on our own dinner table.

Any plastic not eaten remains in the oceans creating toxic pollutants poisoning both marine life and US.

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE we hear over and over again…….but what exactly can YOU do to help us STOP this and Save The Oceans from Plastics?

If you read the information on our About Us page you will see that we have a four point plan to address this issue.

WE need your help to be able to get our message out there to schools and you can help by making a donation here via gofundme if your are in the US or via Paypal if you are in the UK.

If you would like to receive more information about our campaign and get involved please complete the form below and we will add you to our mailing list.