Skip to main content

Dear Prime Minister,

Will you be at COP27? Let’s meet.

As a social entrepreneur building infrastructure for ocean plastic prevention & recycling, I’ve seen many leadership faces come and go, especially since I wrote a similar letter last year, but one thing has stayed the same: there is always be a reason to delay putting people and planet first. Recently these have been a shock to the supply chain, the impacts of COVID, and now a cost-of-living crisis.

In each of these situations, the familiar routine of headline-grabbing planet-positive corporate and government commitments disappear from the news cycle while the on-the-ground reality continues to be a race for the bottom, which harms people and the planet, as companies chase fractional cost savings that are often not passed to the consumer.

COP27 will be in Africa this year, and the G20 will be in South East Asia. These are regions suffering from extreme impacts of ocean plastic pollution. As a UK business owner, I am proud to be present for both but, more so, to be building high quality collection & recycling infrastructure, bringing together the world’s best recyclers for real ocean plastic prevention, and elevating standards where it is desperately needed.

The cost-of-living crisis cannot cost the Earth.

Through my business, Bantam Materials UK Ltd, I have established the market-leading Prevented Ocean Plastic programme. We have so far stopped over one billion bottles from entering the ocean. Our achievements since launching in 2019 are proof that a model for the circular economy is not only possible but scalable.

Previous UK Governments have acknowledged the clear need for companies to use recycled plastic instead of new plastic by implementing a Plastic Packaging Tax. The reasons are clear: choosing recycled supports the cleanup of what is in our natural environment and creates significantly less emissions than making new plastic from petrochemicals. Sadly, many companies are choosing to pay the tax instead of actually using recycled material and meeting the minimum 30% target. Without demand, no one picks up plastic and nothing progresses.

For companies choosing recycled plastic it would cost them just a fraction of a penny more per bottle than virgin plastic. The environmental benefits are clear, and the business benefits are considerable, such as avoiding the aforementioned Plastics Packaging Tax, bolstering ESG and improving investor relations. Sacrificing these advantages to save mere pennies is not sensible business thinking.

As a consumer, I am neither able to choose recycled plastic easily nor has the cost of my shopping gone down. This is despite the fact that 90% of UK adults now believe that plastic waste should be used to create useful resources, while 62% of shoppers actively choose products packaged in a more environmentally responsible way. There are some bright spots: at Lidl just about all fish, breaded chicken and sausage has recycled packaging – and so has our logo on it – along with the flat plastic wine bottles used by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy in its Galoupet rosé wine range.

We can all do better and make better choices. From Lidl to Louis Vuitton.

You are invited to meet my team at the Prevented Ocean Plastic Research Centre on the Richmond Green to discuss how we can all really make a positive impact implementing a circular economy over the long-term. Alternatively we can meet at COP27 or the G20. USAID is making the time to meet and support us. As a UK business we hope you will also.

Yours sincerely,

Raffi Schieir
Founder and Director of Bantam Materials UK and Prevented Ocean Plastic.

Prevented Ocean Plastic is a pioneering plastic recycling company developing locally customized sorting and collection infrastructure to underserved communities across the world. We are committed to strengthening the supply chain and scaling solutions for the management of plastic waste in the country. We provide high quality traceable recycled plastic to global markets to drive environmental, social and economic value from the bottle collector to the end consumer.

Join the discussion One Comment