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5TH JUNE, 2018

World Environment Day 2018

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#BeatPlasticPollution

Staring at the weekly pile of groceries wrapped in plastic, I often wonder why we have plastic containers for everything from apples to individually wrapped biscuits in a box. As soon as it is out of the shop it is out of the bag and into the bin. We don’t stop to think about what the real cost is to us and our environment. Through the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution, on World Environment Day, we are reminded of our footprint. 

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Over 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year worldwide. At least 800 marine species are known to have either ingested, been injured or killed after getting entangled with plastics (data provided by the United Nations). Leakage of wastes such as plastic, into aquatic and marine ecosystems is destroying the delicate balance of our waters. Water toxicity is a major concern for our health. Consider what waste to landfill really means - if the waste is not biodegradable, it will pollute the site indefinitely. 

The cost of inaction is considerable. At the macro level, mismanagement of waste heightens the risk of disease, urban flooding and environmental pollution. At household level, exposure to hazardous waste can be fatal.  

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It’s a relief to see how many initiatives to #BeatPlasticPollution are taking place world-wide, and the focus on this issue in a number of countries is building momentum elsewhere. Among many progressive environmental policies in the EU, Norway is running a successful initiative where clients are paid for their recycling in supermarkets. The Netherlands charge for non-recycled waste collection, incentivising citizens to produce less waste. On the island of Isole Tremiti, Italy, a complete ban on single use plastics has been enforced and the European Union is proposing a ban on single use plastics, following the passing of the same law in France two years ago. 

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Kenya was on the news this year after it’s long awaited policy to ban plastic carrier bags was passed. Anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying plastic bags could face fines of up to $38,000 or prison sentences of up to four years. As part of our Group activities to #BeatPlasticPollution, our teams in Kakuzi are cleaning a 2km stretch of Nairobi Nyeri highway, to inspire road users and our staff to reduce littering and clear our ecosystems of plastic pollution.

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In 2017 the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC) and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) announced their collaboration towards the world’s first Smart Sanitation City. By 2024, Andhra Pradesh, known as one of India’s first “Green Revolution” states, will be India’s first 100 per cent natural farming state (farming free from agro-chemicals). The positive impacts of transitioning 8 million hectares of conventional farming to farms that are free from chemical contamination are significant. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, called it, “unprecedented transformation towards sustainable agriculture on a massive scale”. 

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Our Indian subsidiary, Goodrike, has been working to build awareness about recycling in its gardens for decades. Goodricke has one of the lowest waste to landfill impacts in the Group. Most biological waste in tea gardens is reused onsite, reducing reliance on agro-chemicals and lowering carbon emissions associated with transportation.

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Here at Linton Park we held a cleanup day and are providing new bins around the public areas of the estate to ensure a cleaner, litter free environment in the future. We can all play our part and take a stand against plastic pollution. Even small changes to our everyday lives, such as the choices we make at the supermarket, can make a huge difference towards the positive changes we need to see in the world.