Icon News goes back to paper!
You may have noticed that this issue of Icon News reached you in a paper envelope instead of the plastic film wrap that we have been using for some time now. The change has been made in response to the emails we have received from members asking if we could replace the plastic film wrap with a biodegradable one such as that used by some other national charities and organisations.
After researching our former biodegradable wraps and we decided that they weren't necessarily the best environmental option. The film used contained only 20% biodegradable starch-based material, whilst 80% is still oil-based, making it so that it only biodegraded if put in a proper composting system operating at 60˚C or more.
The good news is that our new paper envelopes are made out of 100% recycled paper and can of course be put in your paper recycling bin! 78% of paper in the UK is recovered and recycled. In contrast only 32% of plastic is collected for recycling and it's a pretty fair assumption that none of the plastic film used for wrapping magazines is recycled, whether it is said to be biodegradable or not.
This is not just our opinion. Since we first posted this item, Experts from University College London have said that many “eco-friendly” products are sold without consumers being told that industrial processors are needed to break them down. Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials & Society, said “The public really needs to know that when something says it’s compostable, it is not going to disappear as soon as you drop it. It may not be good for the environment. Even on a home compost heap, these products may not biodegrade for years. Most people put them in the bin, where they do not look any different to regular plastic. Most biodegradable or compostable products end up in landfill, where they will not biodegrade, which raise the question of what the point is.”
Professor Richard Thompson, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the Faculty of Science at the University of Plymouth, who has undertaken various studies on biodegrading of plastic and gave evidence to the Government inquiry which led to the introduction of the 5p levy on plastic bags, recently said:
This research raises a number of questions about what the public might expect when they see something labelled as biodegradable. We demonstrate here that the materials tested did not present any consistent, reliable and relevant advantage in the context of marine litter. It concerns me that these novel materials also present challenges in recycling. Our study emphasises the need for standards relating to degradable materials, clearly outlining the appropriate disposal pathway and rates of degradation that can be expected."
We greatly appreciate all the feedback sent in by our members leading up to the change and always welcome further input to keep Icon ahead of the curve!