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UK glitter ban; Europe's largest Marine Protected Area; Canada bans single-use plastics

Major UK retailers ditch the glitter this festive season, as new study finds biodegradable glitter could be just as damaging to the environment

In a move to reduce plastic pollution at the festive time of year, major UK retailers Morrisons, Waitrose and John Lewis have announced they will not be using glitter in their own-brand products, including cards, decorations, gift wrap and crackers, this Christmas.

The announcement has been made the same week that results of a new study into the effects of glitter on the environment has been released. In what’s thought to be the first of its kind, the study by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge found that even biodegradable or ‘eco glitter’ can have a similar impact on the environment as conventional Polyethylene terephthalate (PET plastic) glitter, and could be causing ecological damage to rivers and lakes.

Alternative ‘eco-glitters’ are usually made from either modified regenerated cellulose (MRC) sourced from eucalyptus trees then coated with aluminium, or mica – a mineral that breaks up into very thin sheets and is primarily used as a ‘glitter’ in cosmetics.

Other retailers in the UK are also jumping on the eco-friendly Christmas bandwagon, with Boots removing 2,000 tonnes of plastic from its ranges simply by cutting single-use plastic packaging from gifts. Asda is launching its first sustainable Christmas range this year, Tesco uses only edible glitter and Sainsbury’s promises no glitter on its cards, wrapping paper or gift bags.

The festive season has historically been a very wasteful time of year. In Australia alone, we use around 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper every Christmas that goes virtually from the roll to the bin, and an estimated $400 million was spent on 10 million unwanted gifts for Christmas 2018.

 

More than 30% of Scotland’s seas are now a designated Marine Protected Area, safeguarding marine life including sharks and reefs

The West of Scotland deep sea reserve is now part of the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Europe, covering 15% of the marine area in the United Kingdom. The new MPA will give additional protections to some of the deepest parts of Scotland’s seas, protecting Scotland’s unique deep sea marine ecosystems.

Thanks to the MPA, habitats in the 38,610 sq miles (100,000 sq km) area in the north-east Atlantic are now protected from marine industry projects and some types of fishing, offering protection to habitats on seamounts, which are extinct volcanoes, as well as deep-sea mud, cold-water coral reefs, and fish such as the blue ling, gulper sharks and Portuguese dogfish.

The designation of this site is part of a final package of MPAs that aim to reach the international target of 10% global MPA coverage by the end of 2020.

 

Canada becomes latest country to announce single use plastics ban

It seems we share news like this every week – and we’re not sad about it! Canada will ban single-use grocery bags, straws, stirrers, six-pack rings, cutlery and food containers by the end of next year.

Canadians currently throw away more than 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, with only 9 per cent being recycled. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily.

The country has a goal to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, in a plan that the government says will protect its wildlife and waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs. The plan also proposes improvements to recover and recycle plastic, so it stays within the economy and out of the environment.

Over 35 countries around the world have already taken action by banning certain single use plastics, including U.K., France and Italy.

“Canadians see the effects of plastic pollution in their communities and waterways and they expect the Government to take action. Our Government is introducing a comprehensive plan to get to zero plastic waste. Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycled-content standards and targets for recycling rates. We also intend to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and hard-to-recycle take out containers. These items are harmful to our environment and their value is lost from the economy when they are tossed in the trash. This proposed ban will help drive innovation across the country as new and easier to recycle items take their place in our economy.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

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