Walk for Waste Aid - 23rd June, 2018, London

07/06/18 UPDATE

The official registration has shut but you can still join:

Go to https://wasteaid.org.uk/donate/ 

Pay £18

Event Name: Walk for Waste Aid

Organisation: Unpackaged

Wear a green accessory on the day so we know that you're part of Team Unpackaged!

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We will be entering a team, in collaboration with Zero Waste Life, to participate in the third annual “Walk for Waste“ event, a 25km walk across London to raise money for the charity WasteAid. Our team will be called ‘Zero Waste Life + Unpackaged’.

We will meet at 9.30am and congregate with the other walkers on Station Approach, near Putney Bridge Station. Then at 10:00am the walk will start and we will we will head east towards the City, zigzagging across the array of historic bridges, with a break for lunch in Vauxhall. The finish line is in Southwark just past Tower Bridge.

To indentify our team we are asking people to wear something green - a scarf, hat etc. 

Everyone is welcome, and there is no obligation to complete the full 25km. Anyone preferring to do the 10km walk can join us at lunchtime. 

We’ll be doing a litter pick along the way and there will be refreshments at the start, middle and finish line, as well as water bottle refill stations.

To register to participate in the walk, simply follow the link below to buy a ticket. Select the ‘Team Registration’ option which is £18. Then when you enter your name, simply state our team name afterwards, for example: Alex Furey (Zero Waste Life + Unpackaged).
For £18 you will receive:
- a free ‘Walk for WasteAid 2018’ T-shirt to wear
- a free branded re-usable water bottle
- a souvenir route map – bridge facts
- midpoint stop, free snacks and bottle refill point
- a medal & food at the finish
(although to reduce waste, if you don’t want to receive these items. it is possible to opt-out of being given these items).
https://billetto.co.uk/e/walk-for-wasteaid-tickets-258358/select

If you can't walk but would like to make a donation, please do so here:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/unpackaged

ABOUT WASTE AID (AKA THE IMPORTANT BIT!)
WasteAid is an independent charity (non-profit), set up by waste management professionals to share practical and low-cost waste management know-how with communities in low-income countries.Two billion people in the world don’t have their rubbish collected, and WasteAid is raising money to train more communities in simple recycling
techniques, creating jobs and keeping plastic out of the oceans.
To find out more about WasteAid the amazing work they do, visit their website: https://wasteaid.org.uk/

It’s a beautiful route through London and it will be a great opportunity to meet and chat to other members of the Zero Waste community along the way, so we hope you can join us!

An Introduction to Zero Waste Shopping at Planet Organic

We're so looking forward to hosting this event at Planet Organic on Thursday 10th May!

Planet Organic, Torrington Place
10th May
6pm - 8pm
Tickets £5 (but redeemable on the night against anything you buy in the shop)

Whether you're a newbie, or a seasoned professional, come and chat Zero Waste, and meet the other lovely people from Zero Waste Life - London (Meet up Group link here: https://www.meetup.com/Zero-Waste-Life-London/ We now have over 800 members!)

Event Tickets here: http://bit.ly/INTROZWPO

Launch of Unpackaged At - Our New Refill Unit For Independent Retailers!

Unpackaged At….

Leading zero waste retailer Unpackaged launches unique retail solution at Welbeck Farm Shop, and plans to roll out across the UK

Catherine Conway, the founder of sustainable shopping solution Unpackaged (and the inspiration for many identikit concepts across the world), has developed a unique retail offering specifically for farm shops and independent delis and retailers.  Unpackaged At…– which launches into sustainable shopping pioneer Welbeck Farm Shop in Nottinghamshire this week - offers a series of refillable dispensers for shoppers keen to keep their footprint low.  The scheme has been inspired by a more traditional way of shopping, where goods are measured and weighed and do not come in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging. 

On offer is an array of cereals, pulses, pastas, rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and various other raw foodstuffs.  The area is bright, well sign-posted and easy to use, with customers being invited to fill up their own containers and weigh it out themselves before taking it to the tills to pay.

Offering refills is different to ‘bulk’ shopping, which can be found around London and the UK but which does not deal with the issue of packaging waste.    Catherine says, “With bulk, the customer is offered alternative packaging – often more plastic bags, whereas refill shopping is all about enabling customers to bring their own containers.  To do this, we give them the ability to 'tare' and deduct the weight of any container they bring from the overall weight of the goods they are buying, so it's self-service, easy to use, and complies with all legislation on weights, measures and labelling.”

Catherine is launching ‘Unpackaged At…’ at the Farm Shop & Deli Show at the NEC from the 16th to 18th April. Find her at the Bizerba stand, No. W270/W280 at FoodEx (one part of the show).  She is also taking part in the panel debate on Monday 16th April, all about how to reduce plastic waste.

Catherine goes on to say, “Earlier this year I launched my concept into Planet Organic shops across London. Moving into farm shops and delis is huge jump for me.  More and more people in towns, villages and rural areas are committed to supporting these kinds of shops and it’s a huge achievement for Unpackaged At... to be here.  Independent retailers have a huge opportunity to beat the big supermarkets to reducing waste – and shopping ‘by refill’ ensures repeat business!  Without getting sentimental, the ‘old’ way of shopping was much, much kinder to our environment.  Supply chain was a simpler affair, and bulk offerings allowed shoppers to choose how much they wanted, thus cutting down on packaging and food waste.  I’m incredibly proud today.  It’s a massive step in the long journey towards a truly zero waste weekly shop.”

Catherine founded Unpackaged in 2006 at market stalls around east London before opening a small shop in central London selling over 700 products in bulk, offering a solution to the growing problem of packaging waste.  Since then, she has worked with countless entrepreneurs around the globe, helping them to set up similar shops in their own markets. Today, Unpackaged leads the way in retail and consultancy services tackling packaging at all stages of the supply chain.   She continues to speak, write and campaign on all things Zero Waste.

Retailers who sign up to ‘Unpackaged at…’ will get everything they need to set up a refill section within their existing store, and Unpackaged will support them every step of the way to make it a success.   Retailers will receive AN easy to install unit holding 10 gravity and 15 scoop bins - giving them the space to sell 25 products from a compact 1m x 2m footprint.   Their partner Bizerba gives them a high spec weighing scale that allows customers to tare, or zero, their own containers themselves, reducing any operational burden on staff. Additionally, Unpackaged has partnered with Grenke to offer a finance package for retailers, enabling them to pay a quarterly rental for their Unpackaged unit, helping to get them up and running quickly without an initial big investment, and manage cashflow.

www.beunpackaged.com

 

The Welbeck Farm Shop is open seven days a week. Mon-Sat 10:00am to 5:00pm — Sun 10:00am to 4:00pm. Nestled in the heart of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Welbeck is conveniently located on the A60, just 15 minutes from the A1 and M1.   For more information, visit www.welbeckfarmshop.co.uk

 

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

For any further information about Unpackaged, about Welbeck Farm Shop, or about Planet Organic, please contact Hannah Norris at Nourish PR on 07881 805000 / hannah@nourishpr.com

 

 

Unpackaged unveils unique partnership with Planet Organic - Press Release, 12th February 2018

The ‘Godmother’ of sustainable shopping has created a unique way to  shop 100% packaging free.

Catherine Conway, the founder of sustainable shopping solution Unpackaged (and the inspiration for many identikit concepts across the world), has developed an exclusive retail offering with London high food giants Planet Organic that will set a precedent for the future of supermarket shopping.  Currently unique to Planet Organic, Catherine has created a series of refillable dispensers for shoppers keen to keep their shopping footprint low.  The scheme has been inspired by a more traditional way of shopping, where goods are measured and weighed and do not come in hard-to-recycle plastic packaging. 

Following a successful trial at Muswell Hill, Unpackaged is being rolled out to Torrington Place in central London this week, with a second opening w/c 19th Feb in Westbourne Grove. On offer is a vast array of cereals, pulses, pastas, rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and various other raw foodstuffs.  The area is bright, well sign-posted and easy to use, with customers being invited to fill up their own containers and weigh it out themselves before taking it to the tills to pay.

Offering refills is different to ‘bulk’ shopping, which can be found around London and the UK but which does not deal with the issue of packaging waste.    Catherine says, “With bulk, the customer is offered alternative packaging – often more plastic bags, whereas refill shopping is all about enabling customers to bring their own containers.  To do this, we give them the ability to 'tare' and deduct the weight of any container they bring from the overall weight of the goods they are buying (a process we developed with our partners at Bizerba) so it's self-service, easy to use, and complies with all legislation on weights, measures and labelling.”

Catherine goes on to say, “This is the future of shopping.  Without getting sentimental, the ‘old’ way of shopping was much, much kinder to our environment.  Supply chain was a simpler affair, and bulk offerings allowed shoppers to choose how much they wanted, thus cutting down on packaging AND food waste.  I’m incredibly proud today.  It’s a massive step in the long journey towards a truly zero waste weekly shop.”

Catherine founded Unpackaged in 2006 at market stalls around east London before opening a small shop in central London selling over 700 products in bulk, offering a solution to the growing problem of packaging waste.    Sadly, due to rising rents the shop closed in 2012.  Since then, she has worked with countless entrepreneurs around the globe, helping them to set up similar shops in their own markets. Today, Unpackaged leads the way in retail and consultancy services tackling packaging at all stages of the supply chain.   She continues to speak, write and campaign on all things Zero Waste.

Peter Marsh, founder and CEO of Planet Organic, says of the partnership, “I’ve known Catherine for around ten years, and believe she created a totally unique proposition with her zero-waste retail concept.  Planet Organic customers are big-hearted, always striving to buy the best products they possibly can.  ‘Conscious’ shopping is very much the future, and we’re ready for it.”

www.beunpackaged.com

w/c 12th February

Planet Organic Torrington Place

22 Torrington Place
London
WC1E 7HJ
020 7436 1929

w/c 19th February

Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

42 Westbourne Grove
London
W2 5SH
020 7727 2227

Planet Organic Muswell Hill

111/117 Muswell Hill Road
Muswell Hill
London
N10 3HS
0208 442 2910

-ends-

For images, more information, or for a chat with Catherine, please contact Hannah at Nourish PR on 07881 805000 or hannah@nourishpr.com

Single-use Packaging, Who’s Tax Is It Anyway?

With … the Environment Secretary I will investigate how the tax system and charges on single-use plastic items can reduce waste,” 

So our Chancellor announced in the Autumn budget, followed by the Treasury saying that “..hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic” – sending campaigners cheering, the packaging industry into a frenzy and lots of us in the middle scratching our heads as to what he actually means; how ambitious this investigation will be and how long this will all take – witness how long it took to introduce the 5p plastic bag tax… the wheels of government do not turn quickly!

Immediately questions arise as to what single-use even means - if you can’t reuse plastic cutlery, or a straw, is it still single-use? But if you can reuse or recycle a plastic water bottle, is it single-use? You can bet your bottom dollar industry associations and lobbying groups will all be fighting their corners to be exempt.

The fact is that something has to be done – of the 311million tonnes of plastics produced annually, 25% (78 million tonnes) goes into packaging. Only 14% of this is recycled and, of that, only 2% is actually ‘closed loop’ recycled. This shows a staggering loss of $80 - $120 billion worth of resources after a short single life cycle.

Suddenly, from the odd article in a specialist publication – plastic is now everywhere. Whether it’s the behind the scenes work that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been doing with business and government through their New Plastics Economy Initiative; or the brilliant grassroots campaigns such as Plastic Free Aisle, #RefuseTheSTraw, 2 min Beach Clean; the turtle straw extraction video that went viral, or the visceral image of plastics in the oceans in Blue Planet II – plastic waste is everywhere, and the tide of consumer opinion is turning.

But, whilst the images of plastics may be inescapable, plastic packaging is also inescapable. Apart from a few bulk shops like Unpackaged, there is very little option to purchase products in mainstream outlets without packaging. Alongside a potential tax on single-use packaging, the Government is also consulting on the re-introduction of new Deposit Return Schemes as another policy lever to effect change so it does feel like something is happening. 

On top of the problem of packaging in retail, the rise in ‘on-the-go’ convenience consumption has led to a massive increase in single-use packaging - try going into any high-street café for lunch and finding a reusable metal fork! The high turnover in these outlets means that speed is key; everything is disposable so it can be binned as washing would take too much time. Allegedly a lot of it is compostable or biodegradable but this means nothing unless the compostable materials are properly segregated in the waste stream – take a look in any of their bins and you can see that this is patently not happening. The reality? It is all being incinerated (with some benefit of ‘waste to energy’), but it’s a sticking plaster, not a solution, to this insane resource wastefullness.

The idea of a tax on single-use packaging, much like the 5p plastic bag charge in the supermarket, seems sensible to drastically cut down on usage. But who is realistically going to pay for it?

The principle of ‘polluter pays’ is sound – but the way single-use packaging moves through the supply chain and into our environment (when disposed of incorrectly) means that the tax will have to be applied fairly across the supply chain, not just to the consumer who has very little other option. Yes, we could, and should, all be bringing our own reusable cups, cutlery and containers to eat but realistically this is about 2% of the population. And even Pret aren’t going to start giving me a pre-made salad in my box – their business models aren’t set up to deal with it. The supply chain has a habit of ensuring the consumer ends up paying for increased costs. Apart from being grossly unfair, this is a pretty hard message to sell in a Brexit environment where food prices are already rising, and ‘shrinkflation’ leaves consumers feeling short-changed on their favourite products.

And where will the tax go? Whilst I understand that it suits supermarkets profiles to give the proceeds of the 5p plastic bag tax to good causes, I would much rather the money was invested in much needed improvements to the country’s recycling infrastructure. Where will the single-use packaging tax go – more good causes? Or cash-strapped local or national governments who, quite rightly, in this age of austerity have to take income wherever they can find it.

The packaging industry tend to see the negative externalities of their products as a consumer issue, a problem of littering that could be changed with a cultural shift. To a certain extent this is true, and the brilliant people at Keep Britain Tidy are doing a fantastic job creating partnerships to tackle this, but the way the system is set up means the sheer volume of single-use packaging is utterly overwhelming an infrastructure not designed to cope with it.  

And what end are we trying to achieve – replacing plastic with a ‘sustainable’ alternative and bolstering the growing biodegradable packaging sector (with all the questions that brings of whether it’s morally correct to grow crops to make into single-use packaging). Or do we want to tackle the heart of our ‘single-use’ culture, with all of the financial implications that brings for our economy? And even if we did go far enough in the UK, the problem is global - we need concerted action internationally to really make headway.

It is impossible for us to say at this stage what this tax will look like, and whether it will have any effect but what we do know is that we need a raft of changes – some legislative, some cultural. Some existing systems need reforming, to make them more effective and, in some cases, we need to shift to radical new reuse systems.

Only then will we have a hope in hell of turning the tide on plastic waste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Election 2017 - What The Manifestos Say about Reuse & The Circular Economy

It’s election time so I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what the main English parties are saying about packaging, waste & the circular economy. On the basis that very few of us have the time (or will) to read the entire manifestos of each party, I’ve pulled out the relevant info but feel free to click on the links if you want to read on. I make no apology for bias (or sarcasm) in my commentary but I promise the statements are unedited from each party’s manifesto!

 

The Greens are obviously first out of the blocks with their commitment to tackling plastic waste and promoting a culture of reusing and refilling:

“In the UK, 35 million plastic bottles are bought every day – that’s 200 per person every year – and 44% of these are not recycled. This means 16 million plastic bottles every day end up in our environment, whether sent to landfill, incinerated or simply dumped in the countryside, parks, streets or beaches. The Green Party would promote the culture of reusing and refilling, through: the introduction of a bottle deposit scheme; free public water dispensers and a community refill scheme; and an end to unnecessary single-use plastics. Tackling plastic waste sits alongside our long-standing commitment to creating a more circular economy - where recycling and reusing materials become central to our way of life”

 

Unexpectedly, the Lib Dems’ manifesto also makes explicit reference to the circular economy, (although I’m not sure why it’s the “so-called” circular economy?!) I’m reproducing it in full below because it’s very comprehensive:

Britain’s economy fails to make the most efficient use of natural resources. We aim to cut waste, increase recovery, reuse and recycling and move towards the so-called ‘circular economy’ in which resource use, waste and pollution are minimised and product lifetimes are extended. This will cut costs for consumers and businesses and create new jobs and enterprises, helping to grow Britain’s economy. We will:

  • Pass a Zero Waste Act, including legally-binding targets for reducing net consumption of key natural resources, and introducing incentives for businesses to improve resource efficiency.
  • Benefit consumers by promoting better product design to improve repairability, reuse and recycling.
  • Establish a statutory waste recycling target of 70% in England and extend separate food waste collections to at least 90% of homes by 2022.
  • Building on the success of our plastic bag charge, introduce a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste.
  • Establish a coherent tax and regulatory framework for landfill, incineration and waste collection, including reinstating the Landfill Tax escalator and extending it to the lower rate and consulting on the introduction of an Incineration Tax.
  • Work with local government to ensure these commitments are fully-funded.

To ensure the policies set out in this chapter are implemented, and to put the protection of the environment at the heart of policies across all areas of government, we will establish a Cabinet Committee on Sustainability, chaired by a cabinet minister, establish an Office for Environmental Responsibility to scrutinise the government’s efforts to meets its environmental targets, and place a responsibility on every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets in everything it does.”

 

The Labour Party seem to be focusing a lot on agriculture, clean air and environmental legislation which is presumably a reference to ensuring we maintain similar levels of environmental protection when we leave the EU. There is a reference to “guiding targets” for plastic bottle deposit schemes but I’m not sure what that really means:

Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Conservative legacy of illegal air quality. We will safeguard habitats and species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding our island. We will set guiding targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes, working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce waste”

 

The Conservatives have taken a different approach, including their environmental policy within an overall focus on community. They do mention “supporting better packaging” but I find it hard to reconcile their lack of detail with this insistence that they’re going to be “the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it” – just because you repeat something often enough, it doesn’t make it true!

We have seen welcome growth and civic renewal in some major cities. Our towns and cities should be healthy, well-designed and well-tended places... We will do more to reduce litter, including by supporting comprehensive rubbish collection and recycling, supporting better packaging, taking new powers to force councils to remove roadside litter and prosecuting offenders. We will do more to improve the quality of road surfaces, filling potholes – especially in residential areas – and reducing road noise. Finally, we pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. That is why we shall produce a comprehensive 25 Year Environment Plan that will chart how we will improve our environment as we leave the European Union and take control of our environmental legislation again”

And finally, I had the pleasure of reading UKIP’s 2017 manifesto, not holding out much hope but *shock horror* there it was - not only a reference to polling day falling on the same day as World Oceans Day but a pledge to investigate the introduction of a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles. Alas it’s not enough for me to balance out the extreme negativity/ racism of the rest of their pledges and for that reason I’m not quoting them or putting a link to their site. But I will applaud this small inclusion.

So, what have we learnt? The party most likely to win has the least amount of detail and thinks that “strong and stable” statements are enough – well they’re not… The Greens are taking it a level up and talking about a “culture” of refilling and reuse, which is certainly where our hearts lie… Labour need to pull their socks up and get with the Circular Economy programme. The Lib Dems have great ideas, backed up with proper detail for which they should be applauded. And even UKIP are in on the DRS act. In fact, that seems to be the main thing we’ve learnt. The focus is, by and large, on water bottles and whether a Deposit Return Scheme could be introduced to tackle the insane amount of single use plastics we throw away as a country, so industry beware, change is coming.