I was talking to an economist friend over a drink last weekend, and he told me about the Cobra Effect. It is based on an amusing tale from Delhi in the 19th Century.
At WRAP, we have done a lot of work making the business case for sustainability; demonstrating how it is possible to strike the balance between what is good for a company’s profit line and for the planet.
We believe that we have to shift from the linear make, use, dispose culture to a circular one which embeds sustainable production and consumption and prevents us from plundering the planet’s precious resources. This is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must do’ and that business, government, and all of us as citizens have a responsibility to make that happen.
I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself: I’ve just tweaked the temperature control dial in our fridge. And it’s shocking to think that if every household made sure their fridges were no warmer than 5°C, the loss of milk in the UK each year would be cut by 50,000 tonnes. These lost ‘pintas’ cost a remarkable £25 million.
In 2005, when we first embarked on our ambitious journey to tackle food and packaging waste in the UK through an expansive voluntary agreement which aimed to span the whole of the supply chain, there was a good helping of scepticism.
How could we keep a huge, complex industry, often with competing interests, in an increasingly volatile economic environment, united under a single goal: to reduce waste and cut the resources needed to provide UK’s food & drink?
In tackling the complex issue of plastic pollution, WRAP has consistently said that any fiscal measures need to be part of a holistic response which aims to transform the entire plastics system in the UK. We have also long argued for incentives to boost the demand for packaging made from recycled content.
The recent summit of The UK Plastics Pact aired many successes, but also some challenges, and one was the role of biodegradable and compostable plastics.
Within the last six days, two major reports have reminded us that food waste remains one of the most significant global issue facing us all, with far-reaching and devastating effects on our shared environment, the economy and on our global population. Remember, a third of all food is wasted worldwide worth nearly a trillion dollars.
Like many, I watched Hugh and Anita’s War on Plastic last week. Whether or not we like this style of journalism, programmes like this certainly make everyone think.