The lowdown on plastic with help from Dame Vivienne Westwood
IT’S not every day you get asked to work with Dame Vivienne Westwood, but today just happens to be that day!
Regular readers will have heard that the world famous fashion icon has written the most wonderful introduction to my book, The Waterman’s Tale, and maybe some of you will know that Dame Viv is a fierce fighter for the environment, a regular protestor at fracking sites and a passionate advocate for reducing our reliance on the once much lauded product... plastic.
It came into existence in a fanfare, but the un-biodegradable nature of the stuff is choking our oceans, waterways and indeed the life within them, including whales and dolphins and all marine life, and it is now coming back to haunt us humans in a thousand ways, and all bad.
Firstly we need to see why plastic was so lauded across the globe and the following summation is provided by the recycling group Recoup.
Above all, plastics are used in packaging so commonly because of the unique combination of benefits they offer including:
The long polymer chains which constitute the plastics raw material make it difficult to break.
Plastics packaging is shatterproof and does not fragment into dangerous shards when dropped.
Plastics packaging is ideal for the packaging of foodstuffs, medicines and pharmaceuticals. It can be filled and sealed without human intervention. The materials used, both plastics raw materials and additives, fulfil all food safety legislation at national and European Union levels.
Plastics packaging can be produced and used with tamper-evident and child resistant closures. The transparency of the pack enables users to examine the condition of the goods prior to purchase.
Plastics packaging items are low in weight but high in strength. Hence products packed in plastics are easy to lift and handle by consumers and personnel in the distribution chain.
The properties of the materials combined with the array of processing technologies employed in the industry, ranging from injection and blow moulding to thermoforming, enable the production of an infinite number of pack shapes and configurations.
Additionally the extensive range of colouring possibilities and the ease of printing and decoration facilitate brand identification and information for the consumer.
Recoup is the UK’s leading authority on plastic waste and resource management, providing expertise and guidance to a wide range of clients across the plastics supply, use and disposal chain.
So on the face of it, they have the right idea, they are ethical and encourage recycling. But do they, and other organisations and campaigners like them, go far enough?
While the idea of recycling the plastic in existence is positive, Dame Viv and I believe we need to go one step further, and sooner rather than later go plastic free.
Bonkers I know and as much as the three words, go plastic free, flow off the tongue the reality is a long hard road of change.
But hey, I never said it was easy.
Watch this space for the next instalment.
Here’s a sneak preview of ‘Our Vivienne’ a kid’s book idea illustrated by Niamh for use in primary schools to spread the message.
Early stages but we’re on it!
●●Dame Vivienne Westwood
●●‘Our Vivienne,’ a kid’s book idea