World's First Plastic-Free Supermarket Aisle Debuts in the Netherlands
The world's first plastic-free supermarket aisle debuted in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Shoppers at the Jan Pieter Heijestraat branch of Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza will have roughly 700 plastic-free products to choose from, including meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, yogurt, snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables. Instead of plastic, items are packed in compostable materials or glass, metal and cardboard.
"Plastic-free aisles are an important stepping stone to a brighter future for food and drink," Ekoplaza chief executive, Erik Does, said in a statement. "We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging."
Ekoplaza, which has 74 stores across the Netherlands, plans to roll out similar aisles across all branches by the end of the year. A second store is expected to be in The Hague by June.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, the environmental organization behind the initiative, hopes other food retailers will follow.
"There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic," she said in a statement. "Europe's biggest supermarkets must follow Ekoplaza's lead and introduce a plastic-free aisle at the earliest opportunity to help turn off the plastic tap."
A recent study published in the journal Science Advances found that more than 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of plastic has been generated, distributed and discarded since the 1950s. Of that total, 6.3 billion tonnes can be classified as waste but only 9 percent of that total is recycled and 12 percent gets incinerated. The rest, about 79 percent of plastic trash, simply accumulates in landfills or pollutes the natural environment.
"Most plastics don't biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years," study co-author Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, said. "Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices."
"We cannot continue with business as usual unless we want a planet that is literally covered in plastic," added lead author Roland Geyer, a UC Santa Barbara industrial ecologist.
Thankfully, a growing number of retailers and governments are taking action to curb plastic pollution. Earlier this month, Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency proposed an ambitious 12-year timeline to eliminate four types of single-use plastics—takeaway beverage cups, drinking straws, shopping bags and disposable tableware—by 2030. Chile prohibits the sale of single-use plastic bags in 102 coastal villages and towns. Kenya introduced a serious law that slaps a fine or even a jail sentence on anyone who manufactures, sells or even carries a plastic bag. Scotland has also announced plans to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds as well as plastic straws.
Two Major Food Companies Announce War on Packaging Waste https://t.co/E9fnRdGRXr @savingoceans @PlasticPollutes @SaveOurShores— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1516141208.0
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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