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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Danish brewer will be the first to ditch pack rings in a move it says will reduce plastic by up to 76%

    Familiar plastic can holders used for lager and beer multipacks could be on their way out after global brewing giant Carlsberg revealed plans to replace them with recyclable glue.

    In a world first for the beer industry, the Danish brewer is phasing in a new “snap pack” which it claims will reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by as much as 76%.

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    In the next decade, reduced packaging and increased recyclability will become the main issues for consumers, research shows

    The number one issue for British shoppers in the next decade will be to reduce packaging and use more recyclable materials, according to new research.

    For perhaps the first time, the public puts environmental considerations around plastic waste above the price of goods when shopping.

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    Walkers and KP Snacks are among those failing to address consumer concerns over recyclability, say green campaigners

    Major UK crisp brands are failing to address consumer concerns about their unrecyclable plastic packets, new research claims, with many relying on pledges that won’t come into effect for years.

    The latest findings from campaign group 38 Degrees come after more than 310,000 signed its petition demanding that brand leader, Walkers, take the initiative and ditch plastic packaging in favour of amore sustainable alternative. Recent polling has found that plastic waste will soon leapfrog price as shoppers’ top concern.

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    From recycling clothes to stopping smoking and behaving in public, incentive tickets are making a difference. But are we losing the ability to do good for its own sake?

    It is a shrewd psychological tactic that all parents will be familiar with: instead of berating an errant child for their wrongdoings, focus instead in rewarding them for good behaviour.

    Now the idea is catching on outside the nursery, with implications for everything from recycling clothes to policing. Put simply: to get people to do things, throw away those sticks and invest in a prodigious quantity of carrots.

    Related: The startup making shirts out of cow poo

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    It’s all profit and gloss for the Brits who do exactly what it says on the tin

    Rare is the DIY dilettante with the foresight to know they are never going to use the rest of that paint they stashed in the shed after doing up the living room. Who hasn’t kidded themselves that they really are going to touch up all those grubby spots with the leftovers in years to come?

    With an estimated 50m litres of paint going to waste each year in the UK (that’s enough to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools), we are all guilty. No wonder the average home is thought to have at least 17 half-empty pots gathering cobwebs under the stairs.

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    80% say they would pay up to $10 per week for better services

    Two-thirds of Australians believe their household recycling is sent to landfill and 72% said they would recycle more if they knew that their household waste was reliably recycled, a survey has found.

    But despite the desire for better recycling, the survey, released on Friday by the University of New South Wales, also found that only half of the respondents were prepared to pay more for better recycling services.

    Related: Waste crisis: where's your recycling going now?

    Related: Recycling: how corporate Australia played us for mugs | Jeff Sparrow

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    Beijing’s crackdown on foreign waste prompts redirection of US recycling to developing countries in south-east Asia

    Exports of plastic waste from the US to developing countries have surged following China’s crackdown on foreign waste imports, new research has shown.

    Nearly half of plastic waste exported from the US for recycling in the first six months of 2018 was shipped to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, according to analysis of US census bureau data by Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm. The previous year, the US sent more than 70% to China and Hong Kong.

    Related: Chinese ban on plastic waste imports could see UK pollution rise

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    An eco-friendly person is seen as ‘more feminine’ by both sexes, leading men to shun behaviors beneficial to the environment

    Several years ago while Christmas shopping, I came across a shop selling a reusable cloth grocery bag. On the front of the bag written in bold capital letters was the message: “I use this bag because my wife cares about the environment.”

    The implication was clear: men don’t care about making eco-friendly choices, but with appropriate wifely pressure it might be possible to browbeat them into doing so.

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    Manufacturer to collect and repurpose packaging after campaign against firm’s waste

    Walkers has agreed to offer a free national recycling scheme to stop millions of empty crisp packets ending up in landfill in the UK every year after consumers heaped pressure on it to change its plastic packaging.

    A social media campaign asking crisp manufacturers to make their packaging recyclable led to Royal Mail issuing a plea to members of the public last week to put empty crisp packets in an envelope before posting them back to the company.

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    I’ll always love the thrill of shopping, but I care about the planet, too. Where do I begin?

    I love fashion. I love going to catwalk shows. I love getting dressed up. I love the illicit thrill of some frippery I can’t really afford, accompanied by the rustle of tissue paper in a crisp shopping bag – a sound bested only by a champagne cork popping. And that’s not even the half of it. More than anything, I love the thrill of the high street chase. I love stopping a woman on the street to ask where her dress is from, and hunting it down and ordering it from my phone at the bus stop. I have been known to go weak at the knees over new suede boots and I will never, ever have enough earrings.

    But you know what else I love? Living in a climate that doesn’t fry me alive. Oceans with fish and icebergs in them rather than plastic. Mars is a long way – and besides, Elon Musk? No thanks. Which means I need to love clothes in a way that doesn’t create huge amounts of waste and use a disproportionate amount of the world’s carbon budget. It is obscene that 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste goes into landfill each year. It is the opposite of progress that the average number of times a garment is worn before it is retired has dropped by 36% in the last 15 years. (In China, that figure is 70%.) Loving clothes shouldn’t be a system based on throwing them away. Fashion isn’t rubbish.

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    Plans to expand program are on hold as bad smells and vermin are holding back New Yorkers from saving food scraps

    It was meant to be an ambitious environmental program, but efforts at composting in New York are breaking down amid rats, roaches and rank smells.

    Related: We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN

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    From campaigning to installing insulation and solar panels, some practical steps you can take to help avoid climate breakdown

    The challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”, according to a new IPCC report.

    Experts say that although the challenges are huge there is still time to create a thriving, sustainable future. The main focus is on the decisions facing governments around the world but the IPCC acknowledges the role individuals can play.

    Related: We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN

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    Mary Fawcett and Geoff Walmsley look for and offer solutions to the problem of recycling the bag that the newspaper’s Saturday supplements come in

    Having just read “Crunch time for forests and plastic pollution” (Letters, 6 October), I wonder if anyone can help me? For about a year I’ve been collecting the plastic film wrappers from the Guardian’s Weekend magazine and other Saturday sections. I’ve now filled a very large sack. Does anyone know of a firm that will recycle this material? Our local authority waste collection does not.
    Mary Fawcett
    Bath

    • My wife is a Women’s Institute member and we were impressed to note that its magazine, WI Life, has switched from polythene wrapping to a compostable potato-starch alternative. It would be good to see the Guardian burnish its green credentials and adopt the same method for the Weekend magazine.
    Geoff Walmsley
    Wirral, Cheshire

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    Gia Tran has donated the funds from collecting bottles and cans to the BC Cancer Foundation in Vancouver for 21 years

    Nearly every weekday over the past two decades, a Canadian woman has dropped by the offices of a cancer foundation in Vancouver to make a donation.

    The money, earned by collecting cans and bottles, rarely comes to more than $10 a time.

    Related: Pot luck: the paint recyclers who put leftover litres to good use

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    Instead of contributing to smog by burning stubble, farmers are learning that waste products can be turned into profit

    Deep breath. Autumn in India is smog season, the worst time of year for some of the world’s most polluted cities.

    There’s a reason for this. In addition to everyday problems such as traffic, industry, domestic cooking and road dust, this is the time of year when farmers set fire to their post-harvest fields. It’s called “stubble burning” – a cheap and easy way to deal with crop residue that needs clearing for the next planting season.

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    Exclusive: Watchdog examining claims plastic waste is not being recycled but left to leak into rivers and oceans

    The plastics recycling industry is facing an investigation into suspected widespread abuse and fraud within the export system amid warnings the world is about to close the door on UK packaging waste, the Guardian has learned.

    The Environment Agency (EA) has set up a team of investigators, including three retired police officers, in an attempt to deal with complaints that organised criminals and firms are abusing the system.

    Exporters are falsely claiming for tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste which might not exist

    UK plastic waste is not being recycled and is being left to leak into rivers and oceans

    Illegal shipments of plastic waste are being routed to the Far East via the Netherlands

    UK firms with serial offences of shipping contaminated waste are being allowed to continue exporting.

    Related: UK plastic waste imports to Turkey boom – but at what cost?

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    Chinese ban on waste imports is significantly affecting UK councils’ ability to collect and recycle plastic

    Major problems in the plastic recycling industry are costing local councils in England up to £500,000 extra a year, as they struggle to deal with the continuing fallout from import bans imposed by countries who are no longer able to take the UK’s waste.

    A survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed nearly half of councils who responded (52) say China’s ban is having a significant impact on their ability to collect and recycle plastic, due to rising costs. Fourteen councils across the country say their recycling costs have increased by an average of half a million pounds a year, in part because of rising processing charges per tonne.

    Related: UK plastics recycling industry under investigation for fraud and corruption

    Related: Huge rise in US plastic waste shipments to poor countries following China ban

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    A scheme at one Leeds’ CitiPark hopes to encourage recycling by giving motorists a 20p parking voucher for every bottle they bring in

    It seems a great idea: take plastic bottles along to a car park to recycle, help rid the world of plastic pollution and get money off the cost of parking. This is the scheme running at the Leeds Merrion Centre CitiPark. For a month-long trial period, the company will collect every plastic bottle of at least 500ml brought into the car park. The bottle will be recycled and the motorist will get a 20p car parking voucher for each one. The process itself is quite straightforward: hand them to the attendant for a discount before paying. But will it catch on?

    “It’s been going really well,” says parking attendant Richard Bedford. “One chap came in with 30 bottles. He only needed 15 to pay for his parking, so he’s bringing the rest back next week.” Apart from such isolated success stories, though, the car park isn’t exactly besieged by bottle-laden motorists when I arrive. Bedford estimates an average day’s take at 10 to 20 bottles, but behind him is a full crate, and he says hundreds have been recycled so far.

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    It fuels consumption, while millions of tonnes of our plastic isn’t recycled at all. The industry, and our thinking, need a shake-up

    Is recycling supporting unsustainable consumerism?

    There is a recycling crisis and we may have only just noticed. For years we have been recycling, dispelling the guilt generated by our high-consumption lifestyles, as if our actions are somehow good for the environment. Recycling is the “green” thing to do. But is our whole recycling culture a shameful illusion that has been masking a growing problem of unsustainable manufacturing and consumerism?

    Related: UK plastics recycling industry under investigation for fraud and corruption

    Related: Turkey’s plastic waste imports from the UK are booming – but at what cost?

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    New plastic-to-fuel technology means there is a growing case for stockpiling our plastic waste, argues Patrick Cosgrove. David Reed says it’s time to start burning all household rubbish to generate power

    In August, exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Tackling the scandal of plastic pollution is one of our top priorities.” But it’s now confirmed what many have long suspected, that the UK recycling industry is riven with corruption (Report, 19 October) and only now is government dimly aware of the problem. Taxing coffee mugs and plastic straws, and placing a charge on plastic bags are commendable actions, but in the face of ever-increasing plastic production, single-use or not, are minuscule and potentially token. In addition to stamping out the illegal export of waste and reducing single use plastic at source, a radical upheaval of domestic recycling is required. Local authorities pay waste management companies to collect, sort and, hopefully, recycle domestic plastic waste. Yet they only recycle a proportion of it and ship the rest abroad. Much ends in landfill or in the oceans. The council tax we pay for these destructive processes could be better deployed.

    With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home and industrial-based pyrolysis (waste to energy), and other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile plastic that is difficult to recycle or contaminated. In compacted or granulated form at 10% of its previous volume, it can be stored for future use as feedstock for negative emission energy production and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes. Why not temporary plastic mountains?
    Patrick Cosgrove
    Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

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