The BBC War on Plastic - Volunteer companies wanted to fight back
Many thanks to everyone for your interest in my open letter to Sir David Attenborough. The response has been exceptional, with many respondents adding their views to the conversation. So much so that it has been suggested that we should approach the BBC hierarchy in an effort to encourage them to present the public with a more balanced view of the use of plastics in packaging than that previously given in their series ‘The War on Plastic’ and ‘Drowning in Plastic’.
The letter to Sir David includes references to half a dozen independent reports, all of which conclude, to a greater or lesser degree that “Plastics were the most effective material for packaging when compared to alternative materials”. The reasons they give are well known to many but can be summarised as follows.
- Life cycle analysis show plastic packaging generates less CO₂ emissions during their manufacture and use
- As a consequence, the use of plastic packaging reduces Global Warming
- Plastic uses less of the Earth’s resources to produce and manufacture
- Plastic packaging significantly reduces packaging waste
The most common argument raised against plastics is that plastic packaging is difficult to recycle. However, in the letter to Sir David reference is made to the recent report from the European Institute of Energy and Environmental Research. This makes some key points regarding recycling, namely:
- The complete substitution of all EU non-Flexible Packaging with plastics would decrease the EU packaging contribution to Global Warming by 33%
- There would be an overall reduction in packaging waste generated in the EU of 21 million tonnes
- The 33% reduction in Global Warming potential occurs even if ‘no recycling of any plastic occurred’
All figures are all non-beverage
It is remarkable that such massive savings in CO₂ emissions would be made even if zero plastic packaging was recycled, however, as plastic recycling rates across Europe vary from 35% to 63% the reduction in CO₂ emissions would be much higher than the 33% quoted.
Finally, Roger Harrabin, the BBC Environmental Analyst published an article in January 2020 headed “Plastic Packaging Ban Could harm the Environment”.
This was published on the BBC’s own website and was their analysts reporting of the findings by the Government’s Environmental Food and Rural Affairs Committee which concluded the consequences of replacing plastic with new materials has not been properly assessed. In particular, it mentions the higher carbon emissions produced when replacing plastic with paper bags. As a consequence, we know the BBC authorities are well aware of the environmental problems created by plastic replacements.
Therefore, there is a very strong case for the BBC to answer regarding its emphasis of anti-plastic bias.
My question is that if National Flexible drafted a letter to the BBC, along with a copy of the letter to Sir David, would other companies support this approach as signatories to the letter? If so, we would need the name of the company and the status of the person providing their signature. The letter would then be sent not only to Lord Hall, the Director General at the BBC, George Eustace, Minister for the Environment but also Oliver Bowden, Minister for Digital Culture and Media. Along with all the MPs on the Commons Environmental Committee.
We may be wasting our time, but the industry needs a stronger voice. The BPF do a great amount of lobbying but unfortunately it seems with little tangible effect on the media or public perceptions. If you are interested in supporting this approach please email me on email@example.com