The Government is to ban certain types of single-use plastics beginning in October. GILES BROWN asked what incentives would encourage businesses to consume fewer single use plastics

Ellie Marshall, client liaison manager at ECO 

We need to look at a solution at the source of the problem, by helping consumers make more sustainable choices.  

Morrisons were the first UK supermarket to switch their own brand fresh milk to Tetra Pak to reduce plastic and carbon emissions. Milk is one of the biggest users of plastic packaging within the UK supermarkets, accounting for 10 per cent of all plastic used.  

Companies need to understand factors that are deterring consumers from fully committing to sustainability choices and then communicate this in the best way that resonates with their own consumers. 

Looking at our supply chains is another key factor moving forward. We will need to be conscious of who and where we buy from. The adoption of carbon accounting over the next few years will mean we need to start aligning who we are working with, what steps they are taking to reduce carbon footprint, and how they are futureproofing their technology or products to become more environmentally friendly. 

In Cumbria:

Cat Moffatt, Cut The Wrap 

Grants, subsidies and awards for organisations working towards ‘zero to landfill’ would incentivise businesses to make decisions on more than cost alone, especially in the current financial climate.  

If a single-use plastic product is far cheaper, it is understandable that a business would choose that over the counterpart made out of a more sustainable material. 

Legislation would also certainly encourage businesses to consume significantly fewer single-use plastics. Some other countries around the world (Kenya and Costa Rica, for example) have taken a far stricter legislative approach, with businesses facing prison time for using banned single-use plastic. 

Community involvement would make a huge difference; inviting local businesses to community litter picks or offering a discount in local shops for customers who engage in the litter picks, for example. 

We don’t need a handful of perfect plastic free businesses, we need millions of imperfect ones trying their best. 

In Cumbria:

Zoe Arnold-Bennett, Shed One Distillery 

When launching Shed One, we set out our stall to be sustainable.  

For us this meant zero plastic in our products and everything coming in and going out had to be able to be recycled, composted, or reused.  

But this comes at a cost and small businesses in particular face a price penalty to use an eco-alternative.  

Unless you can get the big businesses at the top to just stop producing single-use plastics, businesses further down the chain have limited options.  

Perhaps if the government were to offer rates breaks or tax breaks to businesses willing to switch to eco-alternatives, it would help to drive change.  

Giving something back each time a new initiative to reduce plastic is introduced would offer up more incentives to take action. There are plastic replacements available, but there’s always a fairly significant cost implication and that’s the biggest problem businesses face.