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What is better? Plastic or Paper?

While the world has been in festive mode and the UK can’t understand how to extricate itself the EU has been doing something useful.

From 2021 a range of plastic products will be banned and others restricted by law.

10 items that contribute 70% of marine waste including plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws are due to be outlawed With plastics making up to 82% of marine waste and possibly entering the food chain with unknown effects this is certainly welcome news.

But we are unlikely as a community to stop using these products so many of them will no doubt be replaced by paper or wood. Though renewable biodegradable compostable and recyclable it takes considerably more energy make and recycle paper and it uses more water too. No easy answers then.    

Here at Circle Squared we initially included items related to recycling of both plastics and paper in our rating system however our own environmental experts have recently recommended a change of tack towards setting targets that are aimed a lowering overall consumption rather than how much of that consumption is recycled.

Basically, the only truly sustainable answer is to use less stuff.

We exist to support companies to do better which is why our rating system will be changed to reward companies that measure and set targets for the reduction of plastic and paper use rather than focusing on recycling.

We know at present few companies do this systematically however we could have said the same about carbon emissions just a few short years ago. 

It seems the EU agrees – alongside the ban they are also challenging member states to set consumption reduction targets. This is a state level to start but we know that the most enlightened businesses will be keen to lead the way in these areas and we shall certainly report on their progress. 

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