Beating plastic pollution at BAM
Alison Guscott • 03 Jul 2018 • Resource efficiency
Plastic: it’s all around us, and we use it every day. It’s a wonder product that has so many different uses. But it’s also polluting our world. Plastic pollution has been in the media a lot recently, from the Blue Plant episode, to the news that plastic netting is getting caught in highlands deers’ antlers and that micro plastic is now found in the mussels we eat. People are beginning to understand the impacts that this addiction to plastic is having on our planet.
We are one month on from World Environment Day. On 5 June we concluded BAM’s #BeatPlasticPollution campaign, as we aimed to raise the profile of single-use plastic at BAM, and challenged people to reduce plastic use at work and at home. It was a great success and really inspired people to think more about how they could reduce the amount of plastic they use.
Teams from around the business took action to do their part. Various offices and sites set up dedicated ‘bag reuse’ stations, while some made the switch to glass milk bottles. Snacks were stored in reusable Tupperware, or - as for the Scotland team - wrapped in Beeswax cloth. Teams held zero plastic lunches, keen to show off their reusable drinks containers and good old fashioned ceramic mugs for their morning cuppa!
Colleagues use reusable products to wrap their lunch
It was a great opportunity for some teams to engage with the local community, participating in litter picks in the surrounding areas to collect some of the plastic pollution which plagues the local environment. They also contacted subcontractors and suppliers to discuss methods for reducing their plastic packaging, something BAM is interested in exploring further – can products be delivered to sites without the use of single-use plastic packaging?
Volunteers at the Volvo Ocean Race Cardiff Bay Clean
Ultimately, the St. Albans team were announced the winners of the challenge, showcasing their efforts to #BeatPlasticPollution, in part due to exhibiting an awareness stand at the entrance of the office, encouraging conversations about plastic usage.
The St Albans team demonstrating alternatives to single use plastic at their awareness stand
All teams demonstrated considerable effort, and made great progress to reducing their personal single use plastic, but this challenge has highlighted that cutting plastic out of our lives takes effort. Some changes are easy: saying no to a straw, choosing a cone for your ice cream rather than a tub, or having bags in your car ready for shopping. Others are a bit harder: re-thinking shopping habits to avoid plastic packaging, or preparing meals and drinks in advance to avoid the use of plastic drink bottles and Clingfilm-wrapped sandwiches.
Eliminating single-use plastic to absolute zero is likely impossible (some reusable drink bottles even come in a plastic wrapper!) but it is important that we move forward and get as close to that figure as we can. Consumer habits are changing, revealing to companies that the issue of plastic is important, and will hopefully encourage change on a wider scale (a recent example is that McDonalds will replace plastic straws with paper ones in all its UK and Ireland restaurants).
Let’s hope that in the future consumers won’t have to change their habits to avoid plastic - because it won’t be there in the first place.
Alison Guscott is a Sustainability Advisor at BAM.
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