The low­down on plas­tic with help from Dame Vivi­enne West­wood

Rochdale Observer - - THE LAUGHING BADGER -

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:

●●DURA­BIL­ITY:

The long poly­mer chains which con­sti­tute the plas­tics raw ma­te­rial make it dif­fi­cult to break.

●●SAFETY:

Plas­tics pack­ag­ing is shat­ter­proof and does not frag­ment into dan­ger­ous shards when dropped.

●●HY­GIENE:

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.

●●SE­CU­RITY:

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.

●●LIGHT WEIGHT:

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.

●●DE­SIGN FREE­DOM:

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

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