Waitrose & Partners' Plastic Pollution Projects Prove Successful
Waitrose & Partners launched 'Plan Plastic - The Million Pound Challenge' in 2019 to support projects which tackle plastic pollution, as well as to rethink how we use and dispose of plastic, to create real impact and long-lasting effects.
Plastic eating fungi and innovative technology to prevent fishing nets being lost at sea are among the projects proven to have made a real difference in the fight against plastic pollution, nearly two years on from being awarded funding from Waitrose.
The £1 million fund to tackle plastic waste originated from the sale of 5p carrier bags and was used to provide grants ranging from £150,000 to £300,000.
Environmental charity Hubbub worked with the retailer to support the five chosen projects and to measure the impact of their work.
The report details the progress made by the five projects, which are as follows:
Mussel Power - Plymouth Marine Laboratory demonstrated the potential of mussels to help stem the flow of microplastics from polluted estuaries and coastal water, paving the way for this nature-based solution to be deployed and for further research into nature-based solutions to the problem of microplastics.
Community Bio-Recycling - Onion Collective and Biohm created a bio-recycling facility to carry out research into ‘mycelium’ (the root-structure of mushrooms) to break down and digest plastic. The new bio-recycling facility also created jobs and helped to regenerate an old paper mill in Watchet.
Enviromenstrual - Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) and City to Sea delivered taboo-busting education to thousands of students, including the training of 724 teachers and nurses to deliver workshops exploring the social and environmental issues of menstruation; while raising awareness about sustainable period products.
Safegear - Blue Marine Foundation developed a cost-effective beacon for fishermen to stop fishing gear becoming plastic pollution in the marine environment. The Blue Marine Foundation has now trialled over 100 beacons at sea with fishermen in the south west of England which has proven to be a simple-to-use solution to ghost gear.
Message In A Bottle - Youth Hostels Association eliminated the need for half a million single-use plastic bottles per year by providing publicly accessible water fountains to enable anyone enjoying the outdoors to refill their bottles. This is expected to make a real difference when Covid restrictions can be relaxed.
Commenting on the initiatives, Marija Rompani, director of ethics & sustainability, Waitrose & Partners, said “All these inspirational projects have proven their ability to create real impact in tackling environmental issues and encouraging behaviour change. Action on a larger scale is now needed to make a significant difference in our collective fight against plastic pollution.”
The retailer aims to make all of its own-label packaging widely recycled, reusable, or home compostable by 2023., amongst other changes.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Conor Farrelly. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.