Plastic Pollution has become one of the most persistent environmental problems that have grown multi-folds due to the increase in consumption and the number of plastics produced daily.
According to a recent study, it is estimated that more than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced globally since the 1950s, which is equivalent to the weight of more than 300,000 London Bridges.
“Less than one-fifth of all the plastic has been recycled globally, which computes to be about 9% as of date”.
According to a report published by Worldwatch Institute, it is estimated that 10-20 million metric tons of plastic end up in our ocean every year, which equivalent to 5 loaded plastic bags entering the ocean every second and truckload of plastic every minute.
It is estimated that 5.25 trillion micro-plastic particles are floating in the world’s ocean that is enough to circle the earth more than 500 times. To our surprise, an average person consumes around 100,000 micro-plastics each year, which is 100 bits per meal.
It might sound big and unbelievable at first instance, but according to research, about 2 million plastic bags are used every minute and 1 trillion plastic bags annually worldwide.
Amongst the most impacted and affected are the marine species and the birds, scientists from all around the world have registered more than 700 types of marine life affected by plastic while killing more than 1.2 million seabirds and 100,000 sea animals. It is not just limited to animals and birds but also human species living around coastlines are the worst impacted.
It takes up to 400-500 years to recycle and decompose plastic and some of it always remains in the environment in some form or the other. So, imagine how many unimaginable years it will take to recycle 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic and will continue to multiply every second if we don’t stop using it now.
How Events & Event Organisers can opt for a more Green and Plastic Free Solution to reduce the impact on Environment?
Most event organisers these days have a personal motive to reduce the impact on the environment through their events. Although some view greener options as adding value to their brand, often fear the additional cost and time it might incur.
Working in the industry, we come across the unneeded waste from plastic bottles to litter items which are used only a single time and amount to be for 40% of single-use plastic waste worldwide.
Event Organisers need to come up with a greener and sustainable way to reduce the use of single-use plastics not only limited to just events but also from the environment. It is estimated that more than 900,000 bottles were collected after a Marathon that took place in London, which is equivalent to 10 metric tons of waste.
Although UK Government has not only taken efforts by investing around £62 million to stop single-use plastic waste from entering the ocean, but also to ban plastic straws, spoons, plates, and cups, which are the most common items used in these events. However, the UK Govt. also plans to eliminate the use of plastics by 2042.
What are the different ways events can use to reduce plastics?
Although it might sound difficult to eradicate the existence of plastic, many different ways have been tried and tested by the events in the UK from the past few years to control and reduce the use of single-use plastic waste as well as to educate the people attending such events.
- Send E-Invites instead of paper invitations - While paper invitations are most widely used, they are not an environmentally friendly option but are also time-consuming. Sending E-Invites virtually will not only help in reducing cost but will also help in saving time when inviting a large crowd or big social gatherings.
- Encourage people for re-usable and biodegradable products - Instead of the regular plastic, such as paper plates, straws events can replace them with wooden or bamboo cutlery. You can partner with glassware or eco-waste management service to unload the burden of cleaning after the event.
- Avoid using Bottled Water - If you want to serve sparkling water then you might think of using glass bottles rather than plastic bottled water. While it might cost more, but it will be worth a lot more when it comes to saving the environment.
- Eradicate use of Plastic Boxes – Instead of using cardboard boxes or natural fabric bags that can be reused and recycled which can reduce the costs and impact plastic creates on the environment.
- Edible Packaging of Items – These types of packaging are made from seaweeds which can be consumed and are naturally biodegradable with a life span of 6 weeks. Skipping Rocks Lab and Evoware created cutlery items using edible packaging that were plastic-free and odourless, which were widely seen being used in sports events in the UK.
With just minimalistic efforts and creative future planning, there is no need to use plastics in events anymore. The challenge for us is getting rid of single-use plastics that we use day to day in our daily lives but once everyone gets united, the dream of a plastic-free environment will become achievable.
If you would like to find out more about ways you can make your event 'greener', you can read our whitepaper on The Festival Organiser's Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility.