June 20th, 2014

Ships that pass on the blight: the problem of shipping litter

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by Clare Pitts-Tucker

 

You know that you are properly immersed in the world of resource management when you start to see a waste aspect in the most unlikely stories. As I followed the news about the recent, tragic and mysterious disappearance of flight MH370, one aspect that resonated with me was how in the course of the search following the disaster, a succession of items floating in the sea were identified as possible wreckage, but later confirmed to be simply pieces of marine litter. Whilst it was large pieces of debris that complicated the search, marine debris of all sizes causes problems for users of marine resources.

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May 30th, 2014

The bud, the bad, and the ugly

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by Thomas Appleby

 

I recently joined a group of students from the University of West England – where I lecture in Law – and the Marine Conservation Society in a beach clean at Sand Bay in North Somerset. During the clean, I was appalled by the huge number of blue plastic cotton bud stalks littering the beach, as were the students taking part. These stalks, which are used to hold the buds, are apparently washed down through the sewers: the public, not realising these plastic stalks do not decompose, flush them down the toilet and sewage treatment does not filter them out. The stalks then pollute the beach and interfere with the public’s enjoyment.

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May 16th, 2014

Litter-picking: why bother?

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by Erica Rose

 

One day last May, a bag of litter caused me to have a life-changing revelation. I was on the verge of the A170 in North Yorkshire at the time, 100 metres or so into my first solo litter-pick, the wheelbarrow was almost full and I was just about to turn for home when I spotted the bag in a ditch. It was full of the aftermath of someone’s lunch – cans, sweet wrappers and sandwich-boxes – and as I dragged it out I was angry enough to rant aloud at whoever had dumped it there. The bit that was revelatory (and printable) was when I heard myself saying “What did you think was going to happen to this, Mr Bag-Dumping Moron? Who did you think was going to pick it up? Do you believe in the Crap Fairy or something?!” I stopped. I looked at myself with the bag in my hands. Ah.

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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?

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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

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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

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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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