February 14th, 2014

Litteral thinking: getting plastic out of our oceans

Bottle beach

by George Cole


As extreme weather and bickering politicians dominate the headlines, it seems that both the public’s capacity for attention and the resources of government are stretched to the limit. However, when calmer weather does (hopefully soon) materialise, emergency relief efforts will inevitably give way to the less headline grabbing clean-up operation, and longer term plans to prevent such impacts in the future. While the focus will be on drying-out flooded homes and repairing damaged infrastructure, on the nation’s beaches another kind of clean-up will be underway.

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January 17th, 2014

Picking up the evidence: what’s the cost of litter?


by Chris Sherrington


Is all this concern about litter overblown? Does government really need to intervene to reduce levels of litter, or is it just a distraction from more urgent issues? What are the negative effects of litter and how significant are they; and given the range of apparently competing pressures, what is a policymaker to do?

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September 24th, 2013

Clegg’s debagging


by Chris Sherrington


Nick Clegg’s recent announcement of a five pence charge for single use carrier bags in England from Autumn 2015 was definitely welcome, even if a cynic might describe it as jumping before being pushed. Until recently, England seemed to be dragging its feet compared with Wales, which introduced a charge in 2011, closely followed by Northern Ireland, and with Scotland planning to introduce a charge in 2014. The indications are that the charges have been extremely effective in reducing the use of plastic carrier bags, but I’m concerned that the scheme announced by Clegg is being set up to fail.

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August 2nd, 2013

Malta-ed perceptions

Malta bring site_small

by Adrian Gibbs


When visiting an old city with a rich and troubled past it is hard not to get swept up in the grand, complex and often frightening history that has shaped the landscape, culture and administration. Fortunately, most guidebooks include an abridged history to introduce the grand names and great episodes of the past. It is, however, less easy to find a chronicle of a country’s waste management systems. This is perhaps a shame, as the same forces of self-interest, random chance, ‘good ideas at the time’ and inertia can surely be seen at play in the establishment of institutional waste systems as in the formation of cultural, political and architectural norms.

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February 10th, 2012

Turtle economic value

Green turtle in Kona 2008

by Chris Sherrington


A few days back I came across yet another article claiming that plastic bags really aren’t as bad as they are often made out to be – backed by the authoritative voice of last year’s Environment Agency Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of supermarket carrier bags

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