Waste Expectations: Trash Talk with Businesses

Packaging, and especially plastic packaging, has come under closer and closer scrutiny as awareness has increased of the damage done when it gets into the environment either by accident or through littering. 

According to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), 182.6 pieces of plastic/polystyrene are found every 100m (MCS Great British Beach Clean Report, 2018 [1]) on beaches around the UK.  On a smaller scale, in North Berwick where Fidra is based, the same tonnage of waste collected from the town has a volume (in m3) twice that of any of the 5 other school cluster groups in East Lothian. This has been put down to the large amount of takeaway food and drink packaging, especially polystyrene, used and disposed of in the town [2] 

In their desire to do something about this, communities in East Lothian are ready to be part of and lead the change that is needed to tackle the amount of waste that is being generated and the harm that is caused as a result. But what might this look like? 

On Thursday 31st January, local businesses, community groups, representatives from East Lothian Council and national organisations, Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) and Vegware, came together to consider exactly what this could look like in East Lothian, and specifically North Berwick and the immediate surrounding areas.  

The event was hosted at Steampunk Coffee Roasters, and was jointly organised by Steampunk, Archerfield Walled Garden, Fidra, Sustaining North Berwick and Green North Berwick.  The crucial outcome for this event was to ensure that the views of businesses, individuals and organisations where fairly represented. This would allow participants to openly highlight barriers and opportunities for all the stakeholders involved in any initiative around takeaway food and drink packaging, as well as introduce local businesses to the support on offer to small and medium businesses via RES.

Over 30 individuals participated in the event, which ensured that a wide variety of perspectives were represented and heard throughout the discussions. Participants were asked to explore three main topic areas:

  1. Reusable options  
  2. Compostable products and collection 
  3. Community responses and town waste management

Attendees rotated around these three options to allow them to hear case studies from Steampunk Coffee Roasters (reuseable) and Archerfield Walled Garden (compostable) and ensure that they could input their views relating to these options.

Following the event, participants were asked to submit their thoughts and considerations in a survey to allow the organisers to acknowledge what people valued most, their preferred directions for change moving forward, and who specifically would be interested and able to be involved in the organisation and implementation of such initiatives. One suggestion was to form a ‘steering group’, or similar, of interested members to help organise, progress and ensure that relevant stakeholders are considered at all times.   

A summary document of the survey results will be available online on Fidra’s website [3]. If you would like to get in touch about this line of work or the progress of this initiative, please contact clare.cavers@fidra.org.uk.   



[1] www.mcsuk.org/clean-seas/great-british-beach-clean-2018-report

[2] East Lothian Council Amenities Officer, pers.comm. 

[3] www.fidra.org.uk/projects/food-packaging/


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