'We Can't Recycle Our Way Out of This Problem': Ben & Jerry's Bans Single-Use Plastics
Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's announced major efforts on Monday to quickly curb its use of single-use plastics. By April of this year, its 600-plus Scoop Shops around the world will only offer wooden spoons, rather than plastic ones. Paper straws will also only be available upon request.
All together, the move is expected to prevent 2.5 million plastic straws and 30 million plastic spoons from being handed out each year, Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry's Global Sustainability Manager, said in a press release.
"We're not going to recycle our way out of this problem," she said. "We, and the rest of the world, need to get out of single-use plastic."
Evans explained that if all the plastic spoons used by Ben & Jerry's U.S. shops were placed end to end, they'd stretch from Burlington, Vermont to Jacksonville, Florida.
The Vermont-based company, which has a long track record of political and environmental activism, also announced today it will phase out clear plastic cups, plastic-lined cups and plastic lids by the end of 2020.
Although its tubs of ice cream have been made of Forest Stewardship Council Certified paperboard since 2009, they are coated with polyethylene to create a moisture barrier, making them difficult to recycle.
Evans said Ben & Jerry's is looking at biodegradable and compostable coating options that "meets our product quality requirements."
In response to the initiative, Greenpeace praised the brand for setting clear, short-term targets and for acknowledging that recycling alone is not enough to solve the world's mounting plastic problem.
"Ben & Jerry's and forward-thinking companies around the world are starting to prioritize the reduction of plastics, rather than relying on additional recycling measures that keep the flow of plastics coming," Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar said in an emailed press release.
We've all been taught that recycling is an important environmental responsibility, but of the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste generated since the 1950s, only 9 percent has been recycled, according to one recent study. What's more, recycling plastics only perpetuates the use of fossil fuel-based polymers.
"In the short term, eliminating plastic straws and spoons is not going to save the world," Evans continued. "But it's a good start toward changing expectations. We're committed to exploring additional options to further reduce the use of disposable items. This transition is the first step for us on a more comprehensive journey to eliminate single-use, petroleum-based plastic in our supply chain, and we look forward to reporting on our progress."
"Thankfully, Ben & Jerry's has a baked-in solution to plastic waste: it's called our Waffle Cone," she added. "They're yummy, convenient, and waste-free!"
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
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