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Alternatives to plastic part 2

Alison Coleman speaks to a range of companies about how they are combatting the plastic problem while still turning a profit.

From the eight million tonnes of plastic that end up in the oceans each year, to the 91% of global plastic waste that isn’t being recycled, the scale of the threat posed to the planet by plastic waste has galvanised public opinion. It has sparked government legislation and mobilised some truly innovative businesses to come up with effective solutions, from clearing plastic from rivers and oceans to finding smarter ways of recycling it.

In truth many of the negative impacts of plastic, such as accumulation in oceans, had already been identified as early as the 1970s. So while Blue Planet II prompted a huge public outcry, the current heightened awareness of the plastics issue is a consequence of the modern networked society that facilitates people to recognise, and then rapidly organise, around issues of contention.

Frank Boons, professor of innovation and sustainability at Alliance Manchester Business School, explains: “This surge in attention and the actual innovations that are being implemented build on work that has been ongoing behind the scenes for years. For instance, work by WRAP – Waste & Resources Action Programme – by the organisations involved in putting in place a ban on the use of plastic microbeads, and by researchers who have been working on fundamental research that now feeds solutions that are urgently needed.”

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 273, April 2019.

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