The Weekend Series: five eco initiatives sparking positive change around the globe
Every single container thrown in the recycling bin, food waste popped in the compost and package-free bulk-buy purchase adds up to collectively make a huge difference to our environment. We’ve been blown away by some innovative new strategies sprouting across the globe over the past few months, from seaweed-based hydration capsules at the London Marathon to Qantas launching the world’s first zero-waste flight. Check out some of the best below.
Plastic-free hydration at the 2019 London Marathon
The clever cats behind the Virgin Money London Marathon have set a goal to become the world leaders in sustainable mass-participation events and are committed to ensuring zero waste to landfill by December 2020. The 2019 event was the most sustainable London Marathon yet, with a number of innovative tests taking place including a closed loop recycling project for plastic bottles in a number of boroughs, new water bottle belts made from 90-percent recycled materials, a reduction in the number of drink stations and plastic bottles, an increase in compostable cups and the largest-ever trial of 30,000 Ooho eco-friendly, vegan, 100 percent edible capsules filled with Lucozade Sport Orange. The Notpla sachets are the perfect alternative to plastic and made from one of nature’s most renewable resources – brown seaweed. Growing up to one metre per day, it doesn’t compete with food crops, doesn’t need fresh water or fertiliser, and actively contributes to de-acidifying our oceans. Consumers can either eat the whole capsule or throw the lining, which biodegrades in as little as four to six weeks. Check out the video here.
BioPak x Qantas zero-waste flight
Early May saw the launch of the world’s first zero-waste flight, as Australia’s leading eco-friendly packaging company BioPak teamed up with Qantas. BioPak’s certified compostable packaging replaced a range of single-use plastics and disposable food packaging, and was commercially composted in Adelaide after the Sydney–Adelaide flight – a route that would typically produce around 34 kg of waste. The airline’s Bowerbird Project aims to eliminate 100 million pieces of single-use plastic from Qantas and Jetstar flights by the end of 2021 (including those wasteful single-serve condiments), reducing its waste by a whopping 75 percent. Made from plants using a range of responsibly sourced renewable materials, BioPak’s sustainable food packaging aims to encourage a circular, waste-free economy. In 2018, BioPak launched the country’s first composting collection service, which converts organic food waste and packaging into rich soil ready to be reused.
Queensland’s first commercial container refund scheme reverse vending machine
The conservation warriors and wildlife advocates behind Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary have taken another huge step towards protecting our environment by installing Queensland’s very first commercial container refund scheme reverse vending machine. Their partnership with recycling company TOMRA encourages the local community to drop off plastic, glass, aluminium, steel and liquid paperboard drinking containers, which will not only be recycled properly but also raise much-needed funds for the not-for-profit sanctuary. Money collected through the Containers for Change deposit scheme will be used to further the sanctuary’s work as well as on-site environmental projects. The machine is located outside the Currumbin Cafe.
Image: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Businesses sign up to the Sydney Single-Use Pledge
A number of prominent businesses have teamed up with the City of Sydney in a bid to reduce single-use plastics across the hospitality, accommodation, events and property sectors. Industry leaders such as the Sydney Opera House, Atlassian, Fox Studios and Star Entertainment Group have signed up to the Sydney Single-use Pledge, which aims to dramatically decrease the number of plastic bottles, straws, throwaway cups and food utensils in use at hotels, entertainment venues, markets, festivals, major events and outdoor spaces. The initiative encourages businesses to implement at least four actions that will reduce reliance on single-use plastic items. Budget travel accommodation provider YHA has banned the sale of bottled water at its major youth hostels and will provide chilled water fountains and reusable bottles instead, while also educating travellers that Australian tap water is safe to drink. The City of Sydney aims to reach zero waste by 2030 and has taken a platinum pledge, committing to phasing out seven single-use items in its buildings, at its venues and at events within the local government area.
Logan community to trial Australia-first eco initiative
The Logan suburb of Yarrabilba will help pave the way for positive environmental change as its residents trial a project aimed at reducing energy consumption and waste. In an Australia first, the community will test out new technologies and innovative approaches aimed at achieving a greener environment, as part of the Circular Economy Lab (CELab) project. It is expected that service-based business models will help drive behavioural change in a bid to reduce energy use. Innovation hub Substation33, developer Lendlease, industrial equipment supplier Movus, RACQ, Fisher & Paykel and Access Community Services will all be involved in the trial. While the details of the pilot project are still being finalised, the hopes are high that it will minimise waste, save money and make the most of sustainable and reusable resources.