Environmental News Made Simple
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Hi curious.friends,

This week a couple of stories that we covered months ago are starting to make waves! The Ocean Cleanup have launched their first full-scale 'ocean plastic cleaning' machine.

And the edible fruit coating startup Apeel Sciences, backed by Bill Gates, have begun rapid expansion across USA to keep your avocados fresh for days.

Also, a huge shout out to our very own Martyn for his involvement in launching the Clean Van Commitment, with Global Action Plan.

Reading time is 3:27 minutes. Enjoy!

Taking the lead in the race to Electric Vehicle paradise

What's Going On Here?

Sixteen of the UK's largest van fleet operators have pledged to go tailpipe emission free by 2028, jump-starting the clean-up of the 4 million diesel vans on our roads. 

How Do We Get To 'Electric Avenue'?

Global Action Plan have teamed up with some of the UK’s largest van fleet operators such as ENGIE, Tesco, Network Rail and United Utilities to join the Clean Van Commitment. 

By 2020, these fleets alone will put more electric vans on the road than have been purchased by the whole UK industry in the last year! 2,400 in total. Bex Bolland from Global Action Plan says:

“This collective statement sends a signal to policy makers and manufacturers that the demand for zero tailpipe emission vans is real, whilst in turn, significantly improving the air we breathe.” 

Why Do We Need Cleaner Vans? 

Vans are the fastest-growing vehicle on our roads, covering a whopping 75.5 billion km a year. 96% of these vans are diesel-fuelled, making them a major source of air pollution, with some pretty worrying long-term health affects to boot!

Moving away from fossil fuels is a must to improve air quality but also to tackle climate change. However, we know that zero tailpipe emission vehicles like EVs also have their downsides, such as the environmental and health impact of nickel mining. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Be Curious!

We know how tempting it can be to go buying mad when ordering from Amazon. So, next time you are ordering that Game of Thrones box-set or pair of Nikes, remember to get them delivered at the same time and condense those multiple van deliveries into just one!

Or better yet, why not take to the charity shops and find yourself a bargain or two!

And as always, let us know what you think of this week’s article by joining the debate at @Curious.Earth.HQ

Food & Drink

First plastic bags, then coffee cups, is it now crunch time for crisps?

What's Going On Here?

Campaigners have launched a petition calling on Walkers and other leading crisp brands to ditch plastic packaging. This comes after it was found Walkers produce 10 million packets of Walkers crisps a day - all of which come in non-recyclable packaging. 

What's The Problem With Crisps?

The Crisp packets are made of foil, right? Wrong! Crisp packets are deceiving and while the inside may look like foil, most packets actually made of a metallised plastic film that is currently not recyclable in the UK. 

The issue is that it’s difficult to find an alternative material that will keep our crisps crunchy, and keep us consumers happy. In 2006, PepsiCo (who own Walkers) trialled a biodegradable, compostable crisp packet in the USA, but took it off the shelves after shoppers complained it was ‘too noisy’. 

Until that ‘perfect’ packaging is found, there are small steps that brands are taking to try and reduce the plastics used to package crisps and snacks. Last year, M&S reduced the size of it’s plastic packaging by putting less air in packets, whilst KP Snacks has developed ‘flow-wrap technology’ to reduce plastic packaging by up to 190 tonnes per year.

Once You Pop... 

We love crisps - in fact 90% of Brits regularly eat them - but we don’t love plastics (especially after watching Blue Planet!). Crisp packets, like other single use plastics, are making their way into our oceans and onto our beaches (earlier this year a 30 year old Walkers packet was found on a beach in Cornwall, UK).

Crisp brands say they are trying to find new ways to package crisps, with Walkers saying they’re “committed to achieving 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025” - but that’s still a whopping 7 years away, which means potentially another 2.5 billion packets polluting our oceans.

Be Curious!

7 years is a long time to wait for a recyclable crisp packet, so what can we do until then? Why not try making your own lunchtime or movie snacks? 

From homemade popcorn, to crisps, to tortilla chips - there’s loads we can make and package ourselves.


Other news we found curious...

Scientists publish report on how to eat well - and save the planet - BBC
Rice farming up to twice as bad for climate change as previously thought, study reveals - Independent
North Carolina didn't like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it - Guardian
Martyn Lowder
Abi Aldridge

We would love to hear your feedback, as we make Curious.Earth the most enjoyable and informative read in your inbox.

Stay Curious
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