The weekly #goodnewssiren round-up #53

May 28, 2021

 From  tackling plastic recycling to new methods of removing carbon dioxide, here’s what’s making us smile in the world of sustainability this week… 


Turkey bans plastic waste imports following Greenpeace investigation 


Following a Greenpeace investigation which found waste imported from the UK dumped illegally, Turkey is now set to place a ban on imports of ethylene polymer plastic waste.  


Last month, the Greenpeace study revealed that more than half of the UK’s plastic waste was being exported to Turkey and Malaysia with 40 per cent alone being sent to Turkey. Once reaching Turkey, the majority of the plastic was not recycled as per the requirements of waste transfer contracts and instead ended up in landfills, incinerators, litter or in illegal dump sites. 


However, after the environmental organisation’s discovery, the Turkish trade ministry has added ethylene polymer plastics; plastic film, bags and containers for shampoo and detergents – to its list of waste materials that are illegal to import with the ban taking effect in 45 days and applying to all nations exporting to Turkey. 

As a result, nations will be expected to crack down to scale their domestic recycling systems or seek new export contracts – proving that campaigning is an effective way to help save the planet! 


Aldi launches soft plastic collection trial 


Leading supermarket, Aldi, is trialling its first collection facilities for soft plastics in select stores in the North of England and East Midlands, with a view to helping customers recycle problem materials. 


With the vast majority of UK local authorities not currently collecting soft plastics, Aldi is providing collection bins at 20 of its stores across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester for customers to return all types of plastic materials including crisp packets, salad bags, bread bags and carrier bags. Regardless if the item was purchased at the Aldi store, customers can deposit any clean and soft plastic packaging into the collection bins.  


Working with a recycling partner to establish the best routes for the plastic to be processed, the trial is the latest move in reducing plastic waste by Aldi with attempts to work towards a goal of its own-branded packaging being 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2022. 


If the trial is successful, collection bins will be rolled out across all of Aldi’s 900 plus stores, providing shoppers with an option to recycle their soft plastics and be more environmentally responsible with their purchases. 


Trials to suck carbon dioxide from the air to start across the UK 


Climate-heating carbon dioxide emissions are set to be sucked from the air using trees, peat, rock chips and charcoal in major new trials across the UK in a £30 million project funded by UK Research and Innovation. 


With scientists reporting on the past failure to rapidly cut emissions, CO2 is set to be removed from the atmosphere to aid reaching net zero by 2050, halting the climate crisis. The project aims to test ways to do this effectively and affordably on over 100 hectares of land, making this one of the biggest trials in the world. 


The best large-scale ways to use trees to capture carbon will also be examined across the UK, including on Ministry of Defence and National Trust land, measuring the carbon removal potential of energy cross for the first time at commercial scale. In the final trial, these crops would then be burned for energy with the CO2 emissions trapped and stored underground.  


Whilst the trial is world leading and helpful in achieving carbon neutrality, the trial sets to ensure CO2 removal is not considered a substitute of lowering emissions, emphasising that cutting down on fossil fuel burning still remains the key to tackling climate change.  


Unilever to introduce recyclable toothpaste tubes 


Leading multinational consumer goods company, Unilever, has announced plans to introduce recyclable toothpaste tubes to its oral care brands in two of its largest markets – France and India – as part of wider plans to convert its branded toothpaste portfolio to widely recyclable packaging by 2025. With oral care brands including Signal, Pepsodent and Closeup converting their entire range to be recyclable, the tubes will be available from later this year.  


Traditionally, most toothpaste tubes feature plastic and aluminium to provide flexibility, however, this makes the product difficult to recycle. As a result, Unilever is set to make tubes now from High-Density Polyethylene which is a lightweight widely recycled plastic. Additionally, as the plastic is the thinnest used in toothpaste production, the required volume needed for production will be increasingly reduced.  


With this leading step in the market, Unilever’s innovation will be made available for other companies to adopt in attempts to encourage wider industry change. This comes as the consumer goods giant announced plans to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025 through increasing the amount of recycled plastic used.