It’s a wrap: why it’s time to ditch the plastic in your publishing programme

It can be daunting to make sustainable choices in today’s disposable world. But for publishers it’s not just about a bag for life at the supermarket, they are fast becoming eco warriors – saving the world one starch wrap at a time.

In short

  • We produce the most landfill waste of any European nation
  • Starch wrap can completely biodegrade in as little as 90 days 
  • Great for your compost heap or food waste bin 

We’re all guilty of it – a plastic bag here, a disposable coffee cup there – small instances of wastefulness in the name of convenience which, when accumulated, can be hugely detrimental to our planet’s ecosystem.

As a 21st century consumer our decisions matter more than ever.

Publishers are leading the way with environmentally sustainable packaging, reducing their contribution to the world’s overflowing landfills by swapping plastic poly wraps for potato starch or mailing their magazines completely ‘naked’ with no packaging at all.  The Polycomp™ wrapper consists mainly of potato and maize starch, and can completely biodegrade in as little as 90 days. It can be placed in the compost or – as we have tested in our office – used for lining food waste bins.

We were an early adopter of the compostable wrap and led a new initiative (in partnership with the Royal Mail) to secure Mailmark discounts for starch mailing packs.  We’re now saving two tonnes of plastic annually – with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, STEP, Benenden, the Royal Photographic Society, and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health among our clients that have made the switch.

Feedback on the new packaging has been overwhelmingly positive. One member of the Royal Society of Biology tweeted: “Bravo to the RSB for posting The Biologist in a compostable wrapper”, while a satisfied recipient of the RPS Journal said: “Love the fully compostable wrapper that The Journal now comes in! Brilliant move.”

The UK is among Europe’s leaders in areas such as medical research and education. We also hold an accolade we should not celebrate: producing the most landfill waste of any European nation.

Public attitudes may be changing, however. The broadcast of Blue Planet II in 2017, for example, illustrated in brutal clarity the consequences human actions are having on our oceans and the creatures inhabiting them – leading many people pledged to boycott single-use plastics.

In January this year the programme maker, Sir David Attenborough, issued a stark warning to politicians and business leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland: “What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years. Unless we sort ourselves out in the next decade or so we are dooming our children and our grandchildren to an appalling future.”

The UK government has said its 25-year environmental plan will eliminate “avoidable waste” by 2050, and “avoidable plastic waste” by 2042.

But there are simple actions we can all take, now, that could add up to a big difference – steps such as carrying a reusable bag or coffee cup. And most importantly – making sure your membership magazine wrap doubles as a free compost bag!

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