It’s sometimes felt as if life has been put on hold while the world tried to hold the onslaught of COVID-19 at bay. But, thankfully, some things have continued. Sometimes against all the odds. So, parks are still being kept tidy, streets are cleaned, and our bins are being emptied.
Life in the UK feels as though it’s moving to a new normal, with the reopening of non-essential retailers in Northern Ireland and England and the resulting queues on our high streets. But with socially distanced shops and empty football stadia and Royal Ascot stands it’s clear that this new normal is going to feel very different from the old one.
WRAP has long known that interventions are most effective when they are rooted in evidence, and when they are collaborative. The past two months has only reinforced this. At the same time, more people are recognising that our global food system is harming our planet – and us.
It was the latest in a string of similar high-profile Plastic Pact launch events which have taken place around the world – including in France, Chile, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Portugal. In this case, the European Plastics Pact is the first cross-border, regional Pact.
Like everyone, I’ve been adapting to my new life in lockdown. With continued concerns about loved ones combined with entertaining an energetic toddler whilst working from home, it’s not been without challenge, but now that we’re in week eight of this new reality I’m starting to find some kind of rhythm.
The global economy normally works like a massive flywheel. Finely tuned, it is optimised for ‘just in time’ delivery. Of course, it goes through cycles in which activity runs too hot, followed by periods where things take a turn for the worse.
Last weekend, promoting what promises to be another seminal piece of work coming out later this year, Sir David Attenborough, when asked by Andrew Marr on the one thing we could all do to help protect our planet, replied: “Stop waste stop waste of any kind; stop wasting power, stop wasting food, stop wasting plastic. Don’t waste. This is a precious world, to celebrate and cherish.”
As well as supporting manufacturers to increase the amount of recycled content in the goods they produce in Wales – via the Circular Economy Fund, for example – WRAP Cymru is also working to drive further demand for such products.
When, in common with millions, I applaud the NHS every Thursday, my uppermost thought is what it must mean to be a doctor, nurse or care worker ‘on the frontline’. Although we may currently be ‘isolated’ as individuals, I can’t remember a time when we’ve been so connected to the efforts of others – and that includes many other critical workers, such as the dedicated people working for local authorities who ensure our bins are collected and emptied.
The principal duties of a board of trustees are to protect the organisation’s mission, and to understand the needs of the people striving to deliver the mission. As WRAP’s Chair, it is from this perspective that I view the current crisis.