04 Jul 2023
This month is Plastic Free July, a global movement which encourages millions of people to reduce their plastic consumption and be part of the solution to plastic pollution. This initiative was first set up in 2011 to work towards a world free of plastic waste, and Plastic Free July has grown massively since. The Plastic Free Foundation Ltd was set up in 2017 as an independent, not-for profit charity to better support participants and grow the campaign.
In 2022, an estimated 140 million people took part in Plastic Free July, with almost 90% of participants making at least one long lasting conscious change, and participants typically reducing household waste and recycling by 18 kg each year, by reusing, recycling, circulating and eliminating waste.
To mark Plastic Free July and following on from our recent World Environment Day 2023 article which focused on ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and our continued support of the Seawilding Project, we are pleased to share an insight into Lucion Group’s plastic reduction journey. As Sustainability Partner, we are also able to highlight some exciting news from the TTP Cambridge Half Marathon’s journey of becoming single-use plastic bottle free.
The Impact of Plastics
Mounting evidence suggests that plastic isn’t just in our environment, but it is also in our bodies due to our exposure to microplastics and chemicals. Plastics don’t break down and go away, they break up into smaller and smaller pieces and microplastics, becoming a permanent pollutant in our environment. Plastics contribute to waste and pollution issues, impacting our health as well as our land and aquatic environments and biodiversity.
The presence of microplastics has been widely reported in food for human consumption. Consequently, the Plastic Free Foundation partnered with the Plastic and Human Health Team at Minderoo Foundation to advocate for change and published guidance to reduce our exposure to microplastics, view the article here.
Plastics are also a threat to oceans and wildlife, with 8 million tonnes of plastic entering our ocean each year and more than 270 marine species are affected by marine debris through ingestion, entanglement and chemical contamination.
What are we doing as a business?
Lucion Group is continuing to support our clients to improve the sustainability of their businesses, including reducing carbon footprints which incorporate waste.
Internally we are reviewing our own carbon footprints for 2022 and working to improve our systems and procedures to track and record waste to assess where it can be reduced within the business. An internal survey was distributed this week to capture important data from each of our offices about our waste processes. This marks an important step in our waste management journey and will aid us in identifying future solutions and initiatives.
Our Lucion laboratory, like any other, has high consumable usage of petri dishes. As part of our journey towards making our business more sustainable and reducing waste, we have introduced reusable glass petri-dishes, replacing disposable plastic ones, thereby saving energy, saving circa 100,000 petri dishes going to landfill each year and eradicating a single-use plastic from our process.
We have also been supporting OSB events to improve sustainability for the marathons and triathlons they organise. As the Sustainability Partner for the TTP Cambridge Half Marathon 2023 (CHM), we have been committed to ensuring the sustainability of the event continues to evolve and contribute positively to Cambridge and the wider environment.
The 2023 CHM event focused on removing single-use plastics where possible and the organisers were very proud to remove single-use plastic water bottles from the event this year. Single-use plastic water bottles were replaced with compostable cups in partnership with Vegware and Envar to deliver a closed loop process producing compost. A few months on from the event, we are pleased to share that the resulting compost from the Vegware cups used in the 2023 event has now been spread over the King's College wildflower garden at Cambridge University. This marks an exciting step in our Sustainability Partnership with the CHM and closed loop solution journey.
In addition, the entire waste management and composting cycle was delivered within Cambridgeshire, reducing transportation and associated fuel emissions. Overall, 50,000 single-use bottles were able to be removed from the event.
Adam Moffat, Event Director of the TTP Cambridge Half Marathon commented;
“The TTP Cambridge Half Marathon is an event with sustainability at its core. We are very proud of the beautiful Cambridgeshire scenery and want to do our bit to protect it. By using Vegware products, the TTP Cambridge Half Marathon 2023 will ensure it continues to care for the beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside.”
Make Your Impact
During Plastic Free July 2022, a record number of businesses, organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and governments took part in the challenge and helped to avoid the generation of over 300 million kg of plastic waste. Initiatives ranged from engaging employees in workplace challenges, removing single-use plastics from operations, changing procurement practices and changing policies. For example, the city of Bournemouth avoided nearly 20,000 plastic bottles during Plastic Free July after Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and the NGO City to Sea banned plastic bottles and cups and introduced free water refilling stations along the seafront.
This year, you can get involved by ‘Taking the challenge’ and use Plastic Free July’s resources as well as tips and tricks from other participants and news from across the global movement. Take the Plastic Free July Quiz to decide the items you use and decide what you’d like to refuse. Plastic Free July lists a number of ways you can swap items your everyday items for plastic free alternatives or to refuse single-use plastic. You can also find events that are taking place globally, using Plastic Free July’s Interactive Map.
Single-use coffee cups are not readily recycled and with 300 billion single-use coffee cups ending up in landfill or litter worldwide, why not swap out your single use cup for your own reusable cup? Plastic Free July launched ‘Choose to Up Cup: Bring, Borrow, Stay’ in 2022, as a way to avoid single-use plastics by using a reusable cup, borrow or swap a cup from cafes as part of a mug library or take ten minutes to enjoy your drink of choice there.
Find out more about how Lucion makes an impact here.