Is plastic ever really biodegradable

Why is this important? The plastic pollution highlighted by the Blue Planet TV Program is plastic that was not recycled or incinerated or put in landfill. If it had been it would not be in the oceans. It’s litter. The same applies to litter in Britain. I believe that the only solution it to make sure that packaging is fully biodegradable. But that leads to problem of what to we mean by biodegradable. There is a lot of Greenwash in this area.

Let’s start with a definition.

Biodegradable: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things such as microorganisms[1]

The problem is that capable does not mean it will breakdown. To quote Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme. “It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down”[2]

If they need to get to 50oC that will also not happen in the British countryside, not even this Year.

Is compostable an alternative term? Again, this may only work at temperatures above ambient. So, I think compostable can be as misleading as biodegradable.

So, what is the alternative. The best solution is to eliminate single use packaging. But this is utopian. So what alternatives are there.

For some uses paper bags are a good solution. Where paper bags do not work there are alternatives which claim to work but the question I ask is do they breakdown in the environment be that the ocean or the countryside, or even the city.   These alternatives include cellophane and “plastic” made from corn or potato starch.

Searching the web finds lots of products but are they really the solution. I do not know. The term “Home Compostable” look promising but I fear it could become greenwash.

Greenpeace have a useful video here on plastic packaging.

For the more technically minded one informative link is The truth about bioplastics by Renee Cho, Earth Institute, Columbia University  from Phys.org

Ian Caldwell

 

Malvern seed and plant swap

The Malvern seed and plant swap will take place in the  Lyttleton rooms, Saturday April 14, 2018 10.00am – 3.00pm

A chance for you to start growing / diversify what you grow / share excess seeds / find new plants / meet like-minded people / contribute to a good cause.

  • Come and find seeds and plants for garden, patio, or pot.
  • Give your divided plants, excess cuttings and seedlings a new home and find something different for yourself.
  • Bring surplus seeds (in date and divided into small quantities) and swap; we have a variety of self saved 2017 seeds, really interesting new varieties from Tamar Organics and flower / veg offerings from Thompson & Morgan and Sarah Raven.
  • Donate unwanted / broken manual tools, sewing machines, good garden sundries.
  • Have some tools sharpened (noon-3pm)
  • Munch a home-made savoury muffin or cake and have a drink while browsing.

Proceeds to Tools for Self Reliance – tools for sale on the day.

Can you help on the day or offer cakes / savouries? if  so contact: Caroll Murphy caroll.a.murphy@gmail.com or  MaggieJo St John mjstj@me.com

Shopping without Plastic Bags?

This is written by Andrew Jameson, initially for the Quaker newsletter.

David Attenborough’s television series The Blue Planet has had great success recently in drawing attention to the menace of waste plastic in our rivers and seas. The problem is that our brilliant scientists have invented an extremely useful INERT material which nature is unable to recycle by the usual natural processes. The actual offending items range from the extremes of microbeads which are added to e.g. toothpaste and skin products to give a “scrub” action, to the millions of “free” supermarket bags we used to see blowing across fields and hanging off trees.

What can we do to lessen our use of, and dependence on, plastics? Here are a few modest proposals.

  1. Natural Choice in Barnards Green, Malvern (used to be Hunts Greengrocers) is a traditional family business, vegetables and fruit are all in “loose” displays, with different sized paper bags available. Also stocked: Seville oranges, Yorkshire pink rhubarb, local ice creams, dairy products, Teme Valley sausages and more. Home delivery free in Malvern. 01684 567467.
  2. The Cheese Board (opposite Natural Choice) has local English wines and ciders as well as cheese and cooked meats. I recommend the Hereford Hop cheese. Cheese is cut to order and wrapped in paper. 01684 891900.
  3. Green Link, 11 Graham Road, Malvern has large containers of Ecover washing up and laundry liquid etc, bring along your Ecover bottle and refill it. Melanie and I have used these for years with no ill effects! Ecover detergents are less harsh than other products. 01684 576266.
  4. Cotteswold Dairy, based in Tewkesbury and the Welsh Marches, is an independent family owned firm. Cotteswold offer a traditional doorstep delivery in Malvern using glass bottles which are collected and re-used daily. http://www.cotteswold-dairy.co.uk/. 01684 298959.

new Gleaning coordinator for the West of England

We have revived the following email:

Hello,

I’m the new Gleaning coordinator for the West of England, and I was hoping you could help me!

The Gleaning Network coordinates volunteers, farmers and food redistribution charities to salvage the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on farms every year across the UK and Europe, and direct this fresh, nutritious food to people in need. We also research and raise awareness about the scale of food waste on UK farms, and campaign for an end to this scandalous waste!

I need to get word of what I’m doing out to farms, specifically Orchards, so that they know to get in touch if they have any surplus. Can you help, either by word of mouth and letting any orchards in your area know about what I’m doing? Also, if you could tell me about any orchards you know of that would be really helpful, obviously any contact details would be even more helpful. Here’s some info for farmers.

Find out more and sign up to be involved as a volunteer here

Cheers and chickpeas!

Heather Mack
West of England Gleaning Coordinator
http://feedbackglobal.org/
westengland@feedbackglobal.org
Please note I work part-time, please be patient waiting for a reply.

The Merry Tiller

An entertaining history of ‘Growing your own’ in song, verse and humorous sketches! On Friday 14th March at Malvern Cube.

The show is a light-hearted ‘potted’ history of ‘growing your own’ and is a fast moving, humorous and engaging production involving narration, songs, poetry, music and sketches. Digging for Victory, The Horticultural Show, slugs, pests, neighbourly rivalries and even a bit of romance are all there – for those who enjoy a ‘sing’, there is also plenty of opportunity to join in.

‘Merry Tiller’ features a cast of eleven talented local actors, singers and musicians and lasts approximately seventy minutes.

Friday March 14th, doors open 7pm, at Malvern Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern WR14 2YF. Tickets £5 (from The Cube 01684 575363 or on the door). Pdf Flyer for Merry Tiller (191KB)

Bar available with local beer and cider. A light supper will be available before the performance (not included in ticket price).

Come and browse exhibits by local food and growing groups.
Evening organised by Transition Malvern Hills and Malvern Hills Food Alliance.

Community vegetable growing at the Cube

At the Cube we have the first community vegetable growing project in Malvern with 10 raised beds. Community growing makes it lighter work, shares knowledge well and handles gluts as many people can benefit from the produce. TMH have several other food based initiatives and are also partners with the Malvern Hills Food Alliance. Food growing and preparation have enormous potential for not only lowering our Carbon Footprint but improving our health, fitness and wellbeing.

Community Market at the GeoCentre

Starting 3rd August, Community Market at the Malvern Hills GeoCentre (Wyche Cutting) from 9am – 11am on the first Saturday of every month.

It will be free for both buyers and sellers with an aim of encouraging community use of produce and generally strengthening the community (and follows on the previous West Malvern version).

See GeoCentre website for more info.

UPDATE at October 2013: the Market has been discontinued – not enough space and not quite working as intended.