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Oceans of Optimism

Happy New year! 

Here’s your monthly round-up of good news to shift those January blues! This month’s edition is the first of 2023 and offers hope and positivity amidst all the doom and gloom. So, sit back and enjoy feel-good stories to start your year on the right foot. 

French Make Revolutionary Plastic News

A pioneering measure has been made in France as on January 1st new rules banned fast-food outlets from giving single-use packaging to eat-in customers. And it gets better, as the single-use packaging should be replaced with reusable, washable cups, plates, dishes and cutlery. This has been hailed as revolutionary by French environmentalists, and we agree! Not only are single-use plastic items being banned, but they are being replaced with reuse and refill. It is hoped that the next step will be single-use takeaway packaging will also be changed and replaced with reusable deposit return schemes. Très bien, France!

Off the Shelf

Waitrose is the first supermarket to stop selling single-use vaping products! The decision has been due to their negative impact on the environment and young people’s health. The single-use vapes are made from plastic and contain precious metals, with up to 1.3 million single-use vapes thrown away each week! So, we see Waitrose removing them from sale as a step to turning the tide on plastic pollution. No other major UK supermarket chains have publicly announced that they will be taking similar action- but we’re hoping that they will!

There’s also been a foot in the right direction for the UK

Single-use plastic cutlery and plates will, at long last, be banned in England. Environment secretary Thérèse Coffey has confirmed that England will follow in the plastic-free footsteps of Scotland, Wales, and the rest of Europe-this decision will help to stop the estimated 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4 billion pieces of plastic cutlery that are used in England every year! If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know that we’ve been calling on this for years (remember our #CuttheCutlery campaign?), and we want to say a huge thanks to our supporters for helping us to keep the pressure on the government to take action on the plastic crisis. We hope this won’t stop here and that England will set out a clear plan for scaling refill and reuse and providing long-term solutions to single-use plastic.

Not so Holy Moly

A recent UN assessment has found that the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is set to be completely healed over most of the world within two decades! The hole in the ozone layer was considered to be the most dangerous environmental issue for humanity, but decisive action by governments at the 1989 Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances has helped in a massive turnaround. The Montreal agreement is now being considered the most successful environmental treaty in history by scientists. It is hopeful news as it shows what a massive impact collective action can have when we all work together to act on environmental issues.

Hair raising news for our rivers and oceans

The Hair Recycle Project, led by Belgian non-profit Dung Dung, uses human hair clippings to absorb environmental pollutants. This hairy tale solution uses clippings collected from hairdressers across the country to turn into matted squares that absorb oil and other hydrocarbons polluting the environment. The mats can be placed in drains to soak up pollution in water before it reaches a river and also deals with pollution problems due to flooding and oil spills. We love this story as it’s a waste recovery solution that supports a circular economy, much like our own campaigns, but hopefully, one day, those pollutants won’t be there in the first place.

A landmark agreement

Back in December, representatives from 188 governments gathered in Montreal for The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), where a landmark agreement was made to guide the global action taken on nature. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) will address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights by 2030. The GBF also features 23 targets to achieve by 2030, our favourite being the restoration of 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. 

Keep in touch

With timing running out to save our precious planet, we’re celebrating these positive steps in the right direction! If you’ve got a good news story or something to celebrate – we’d love to hear from you!

And if you’d looking to take positive steps in 2023 yourself, find out more about our campaigns and how to get involved. Sign up to Plastic Free Journal, our monthly newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news, campaign updates and how you can take action.

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