New Resources and Waste Strategy: what it means for you and your business

On the 18th December 2018, the UK Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, unveiled the Resources and Waste Strategy.

It aims to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by making businesses and manufacturers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging. This ambitious plan is the first major overhaul of England’s waste system in over a decade, but comes at a price.

There will be a legal responsibility placed on businesses to take greater responsibility over the waste they produce. This will include large items, such as cars and electrical goods, as well as smaller items such as plastic waste and batteries.

Businesses will not be the only ones affected by the scheme though: householders will see a positive change to the current recycling system, with government plans outlining a more streamlined, consistent and simplified system to be implemented across the UK.

According to Michael Gove, the strategy “will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse and recycle. … We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.”

Businesses and industry will be expected to pay higher fees for products that are harder to recycle, repair or reuse. However, the money raised by this scheme will go back into the recycling and disposal system through “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)”, which is predicted to raise between £500million and £1billion a year. EPR also aims to incentivise producer to design products that are easier to re-use, dismantle and/or recycle. This should extend the lifespan of a product and will encourage reform in the UK’s packaging industry.

The government has also proposed an introduction to more consistency in the recyclable materials available for collection, making it easier for businesses to know what products that can use to help reduce their costs. They also want to encourage manufacturers to design products that can last longer, to drive up levels of repair and reuse, and to explore mandatory guarantees and extended warranties on products.

At Vesta, our innovative product designs can assist businesses and homes adhere to the new government strategy. Using IoT technology, our smart containers know when they’re running low, and re-order their contents automatically. Our product can make positive changes to business resource and waste management by providing you with waste-reducing alternatives that are refillable, durable and in line with the new UK policy. Using Vesta products will reduce your costs because our products help eliminate the need for damaging single use plastics from global supply chains. We can assist you in creating an efficient and sustainable business models for the benefit of all.

Contact us if you would like to know more

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Accountability and Convenience at the Heart of New Sustainability Initiatives

It’s been an exciting news day in the world of sustainability, with the announcement of several complementary schemes to tackle single-use packaging and the plastic epidemic. This got us talking at Vesta about accountability as an incentive to act in an environmentally responsible way, and about how easy it is to opt out of recycling if the local authority seems to have done the same.

A quick straw poll at Vesta HQ this morning revealed the vagaries of the postcode lottery, with widely different experiences of recycling across the three London boroughs and one county council in which Vesta staff live. Widening it out to family members revealed seemingly limitless permutations of coloured bins, separating, and effort involved, all of which acts as a disincentive to recycle household waste. In addition, blocks of flats and multiple occupancy buildings offer a further challenge, and often see anonymous piles of waste for landfill because services are stretched and there is no possibility of sanctions for failing to designate recycling.

When ease and accountability plummet, so too does the incentive to do the right thing.

The schemes announced today, broadly, are as follows:

  • Consumers will be charged a returnable deposit on packaging.
  • Household recycling will be demystified and streamlined, and county and city councils will aim to eliminate the postcode lottery of waste management services.
  • Businesses will be charged for using polluting and hard-to-recycle materials when producing and packaging their goods.

Done properly, with everyone accepting their share of responsibility for their consumption, these schemes could combine to offer a real alternative to the single-use paradigm. Recycling should be made clear and easy, and in turn there should be financial sanctions for those who fail to comply.

Vesta CEO Tom Mowat has talked here about the ways in which convenience and profitability offer one of the best routes to sustainability. This concept is at the core of our smart refillable containers and of everything we do: seamless services which allow people to make the environmentally appropriate choice.

Towels and Netflix: how hotel stays and film nights provide a model for sustainable change.

There have been major changes in my lifetime. My phone used to be attached to a wall in the hallway of the house I grew up in, for example, whereas now I don’t even have a landline. Technology facilitates changes in behaviour, so that what was once commonplace becomes rapidly antiquated.

At Vesta Smart Packaging, we are trying to facilitate one such change. Our packages monitor and report how full they are, reordering automatically. They will change the way that people and businesses shop for day-to-day essentials, so that we can cut single-use plastic out of the supply chain. It is an intimidating challenge, but we are encouraged by examples of changes made by other businesses which have had a major environmental impact (whether they intended it or not).

On a recent holiday, I saw the now-ubiquitous sign asking that the towels in the hotel be reused. All over the world, hotels now use these signs to save countless millions of unnecessary washes. And it feels like it happened overnight. A simple confluence of ideas that improved efficiency and helped the environment was enough to affect global change.

Later that evening, I watched a couple of episodes on Netflix, and was struck for the first time by the environmental impact that it and other streaming services have had. DVD sales, and trips to rental shops, have declined massively – almost completely in the latter case – and the plastic savings must be enormous. But it was never intended that way. Streaming services offered convenience, and choice, and almost immediately eradicated the old way of watching films on hard copy, which has gone from commonplace to exceptional.

The adoption and usage of smart packaging to cut single-use plastic in supply chains will be a similarly massive change. However, as we develop our product – combining convenience for consumers and efficiency for businesses, these two simple examples provide much needed encouragement, and demonstrate that behavioural change at this scale is eminently possible.

A step closer towards plastic-free shopping

According to a Guardian newspaper investigation, supermarkets are a major source of plastic waste. It is estimated that they produce 1m tonnes of plastic waste every year.

Thus, the news that the Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza has opened Europe’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle, has been considered a turning point by campaigners. As Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet stated: “for decades shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink. A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.”

The store in Amsterdam has over 700 plastic-free products, including meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, yogurt, snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables: all available in one aisle. Ekoplaza has confirmed similar aisles will be created in all of its 74 branches by the end of the year.

Campaigners argue that the products will not be anymore expensive than plastic-wrapped goods. Furthermore, alternative biodegradable packing can be used, thus making the change more scalable and convenient.

The move to plastic-free shopping aisles will become more necessary in the UK due to the recent change in government environmental policies. Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, stated that the UK is committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042; in particular, waste such as the carrier bags, food packaging and disposable plastic straws, would be abolished.

However, to ensure that a plastic-free future can be achieved, it is important for supermarkets, and other retailers, to find cost-effective ways of reducing waste and monitoring sales. Vesta Smart Packaging can help with this: their smart containers know when they’re running low and will re-order the contents automatically (i.e. when the products are required). This will make it cheaper and easier to re-fill the items found on plastic-free shopping aisles.

Post-consumer recycled materials: where do they go?

With the rise of global environmental concerns, the need to reduce our reliance on raw materials has never been higher. But such change will not be easy: it requires us to make pro-active adjustments to our lifestyles and positive improvements to the ways in which products are made, used and, most importantly, re-used.

A recent report commissioned by the WWF and Resource Association (produced by Eunomia Research and Consulting, 20th November 2018,  demonstrates current flaws in the UK’s recycling system and outlines policy measures that could be used to transform it. This timely document provides detailed analyses on the effectiveness of different policy interventions; ideas that could be essential for the implementation of the imminent Resources and Waste Strategy for England.

It identifies a short-list of four types of policy measures to increase demand for recycled materials:
– Materials taxation
– A fee-rebate (or ‘feebate’) system
– Tradable credits
– The establishment of a single Producer Responsibility organisation.

The report considers the ‘feebate’ system to be the ‘most attractive policy option’ due to its “versatility in design, the reduced administrative complexity relative to the tax-based measure, and the stability of the incentive it gives”. It involves placing a levy on all packaging, which can then be refunded to organisations that demonstrate their use of post-consumer recycled materials. Thus, financial incentives would encourage companies to use recycled products and (through a system of certified credits) encourage them to pro-actively explore green solutions to their business needs.

This is where Vesta Smart Packaging could help. Using IoT technology, our smart containers know when they’re running low, and re-order their contents automatically. This not only encourages the consumer to use refillable, durable and smart alternatives, but also reduces waste, thereby creating efficient and sustainable business models that would comply with a ‘feebate’ system, if (or when?) such a policy is implemented.

Change is coming: prepare your business for the future with Vesta Smart Packaging.

Vesta selected for IoT Startup Bootcamp 2018

Vesta is thrilled to have been selected for Startupbootcamp IoT’s 2018 acceleration programme!

After a gruelling but great 3-day selection event in London, we were delighted to be invited to join the 3-month programme, working to make our smart refillable solutions a reality and helping consumers, merchants and most importantly the environment.

The next few months are going to be intense and very exciting as we prepare for formal trials with some of our merchant partners. We’re especially looking forward to getting to know the SBC partner network, and to learn from some of the best business mentors, hardware professionals, corporate partners, and investors around.

We can’t wait to get started. The countdown to October 15 begins!

Supermarkets Sign the UK Plastics Pact

In a salutary move, British supermarkets and food companies have launched a new voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging.

In a first response to the growing awareness and anxiety around the plastic epidemic, most of the UK’s largest supermarkets signed up to support the UK Plastics Pact – an industry-wide initiative which says it aims to transform packaging and reduce avoidable plastic waste.

‘Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose are among the 42 businesses so far supporting the new pledge, which includes an aspiration that by 2025 all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled or composted.’

As The Guardian reports, the government has been debating introducing sanctions to a sector which has traditionally born no responsibility for waste disposal, and has been largely unregulated. By signing the pledge, supermarkets get ahead of parliament, and can begin to create their own recycling and re-use paradigms.

Refillable and reusable solutions are the future, and a combination of bio-friendly and intelligent packaging has the potential to create a real alternative to single-use plastics.

UK supermarkets launch voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging

UK supermarkets launch voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging

Critics say retailers can pick and choose whether to sign up to Plastics Pact, a series of pledges that have no enforcement mechanism

Source: www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/26/uk-supermarkets-launch-voluntary-pledge-to-cut-plastic-packaging

Devouring Plastic

The last month has seen two innovative responses to the plastic crisis, both of which involve the ecologically sound consumption of plastic.

The first involves an edible plastic substitute which not only breaks down naturally, but can be consumed by the very sea creatures which are typically harmed by the non-soluble traditional plastics. Taken to trial with can holders and straws, but applicable across the packaging industry, this offers a paradigm shift and gives waste a purpose:

Biodegradable 6-pack ring is edible to sea life

This 6-pack ring is edible! Talk about animal and eco-friendly.

Posted by State of the Carte on Monday, 9 April 2018

r/Damnthatsinteresting – Honestly one of the best ideas

The second, the result of a lab experiment gone wrong, pioneers an enzyme which consumes plastic on a molecular level. ‘It all began when researchers took a closer look at the crystal structure of a recently discovered enzyme called PETase, which evolved naturally and was already known to break down and digest plastic … But their investigation had an unlikely result — they introduced a mutation to PETase. The result was a new type of enzyme that digests plastic more efficiently than the original’:

Lab ‘Accident’ Becomes Mutant Enzyme That Devours Plastic

Lab ‘Accident’ Becomes Mutant Enzyme That Devours Plastic

A new enzyme unintentionally produced by researchers has a voracious appetite for plastic.

Source: www.livescience.com/62328-plastic-eating-enzyme.html

 

Both of these solutions are in their earliest phases, but they promise exciting and real changes. Used in tandem with multiple use refillables and traditional recycling methods, these breakthroughs could offer a long term solution to the planet’s plastic build up.

A Bold Pledge

In the wake of the UK government’s commitment to work towards plastic-free isles in stores, one of Britain’s supermarket chains has gone one better; it has set itself the target of becoming wholly plastic free within five years.

Citing advances in technology, Iceland’s CEO told The Guardian ‘there really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment’. The company’s first step was to remove plastic straws from its own brand range of products, and all new food ranges will feature paper-based food trays.

This is a welcome development, especially in the wake of the ‘one million tonnes’ revelation, but it is essential that domestic consumers change their habits too.

In the case of too many products—particularly domestic cleaning agents— single-use plastic containers remain the only purchase option. The onus is then placed on the consumer and the local authority to dispose of these, in a waste paradigm that has led to the current crisis of plastic in our oceans.
To combat this effectively, householders need easy affordable solutions which fit into busy lives.

Vesta Smart Packaging represents a paradigm shift. Using the Internet of Things, Vesta imbeds refillable solutions into homes, offering an integrated delivery system and environmentally sound alternative to one-use plastics.
Vesta knows when cleaning products are running low, and delivers to refillable containers, combining peace of mind, affordability and environmentally sustainability.

 

Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products

Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products

Retailer outlines five-year aim to replace all plastic packaging with trays made of paper and pulp

Source: www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/15/iceland-vows-to-eliminate-plastic-on-all-own-branded-products

UK Supermarkets 1 million tons of plastic per year

In a damning expose, The Guardian has revealed that Britain͛s leading supermarkets ͚create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year͛. And, more worryingly, the paper suggests that the firms go to elaborate lengths to hide

the extent of their plastic footprint. What is clear is that their use of contractual loopholes to obfuscate the scale of plastic use prevents clear calls for change. Supermarkets were the first to be obliged to charge for plastic bags, and supermarket delivery services are often touted as a green option. However, until the products they supply are encased in less single-use plastic, they will continue to act as huge catalysts for pollution.

In the face of this, startups are setting themselves the challenge to combat the plastic epidemic. And it͛s working. A paradigm shift is coming from the world of smart refillables—smart containers can be integrated seamlessly into homes and refilled with the goods we use the most.

For the first time, the Internet of Things allows household goods to order themselves, and to be delivered in a refillable and sustainable way. Of course, Supermarkets could get in on this too, but they first need to face up to the dangers of feeding the nation͛s plastic addiction.

Nearly 1m tonnes every year: supermarkets shamed for plastic packaging

Nearly 1m tonnes every year: supermarkets shamed for plastic packaging

Exclusive: Guardian investigation unwraps truth about supermarket plastics after big brands refuse to divulge packaging secrets

Source: www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/17/nearly-1m-tonnes-every-year-supermarkets-shamed-for-plastic-packaging