WRAPPING UP 2018

This is the penultimate article I will publish in 2018. This week I will be looking into a personal milestone that I will achieve this year. I will look into some interesting and disturbing facts related to wrapping paper. Then I want to pick out some key items that I believe will define how sustainability in 2018 is remembered.

Wrapping paper

Personal milestone

On a personal note, 2018 has been a good year for me. I have been amazed by how well people have reacted to the content I have been publishing this year. I published articles on 48 out of 52 Sundays in 2017. My target was to publish something every single Sunday in 2018 and with one more article to put out next week, I will have hit that target. As with all things in life, consistency is key. Whether you read and liked one article or supported each and every one, your support and comments are what makes this worthwhile, so thank you.

Wrapping paper madness

Christmas is a time that presents many contradictions for sustainability. It seems that the throwaway culture is placed into overdrive during this period. It is too early to tell whether the Blue-Planet effect will have impacted buying habits this Christmas. But from my initial impressions, I would have to say that this has not happened. Here are a few UK wrapping paper facts to mull over this Christmas.

  • The amount of wrapping paper used for presents is enough to wrap around the equator 9 times.
  • The average household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper.
  • Approximately 910,000,000 metres of wrapping paper will be used
  • Wrapping paper is designed for single use only, and although some of us try to re-use it, realistically this can only be done once or twice before it is finally binned.

Sustainability in 2018

In terms of the wider sustainability agenda, I think 2018 has been a positive year. Momentum continues to build behind sustainable brands and sustainability has become increasingly mainstream. There are 3 items that I have picked out that I believe have defined 2018.

1. Plastics and the circular economy

Ever since the final episode of Blue Planet II was aired in January 2018, businesses and governments worldwide have awoken from their slumber and begun to take action to reduce the use of single use plastics and recycle them wherever possible. It does lead me to think of the possibilities if there was a “Blue Planet” moment for carbon like there has been for plastics. The momentum would be unstoppable.

In 2018 I really liked the P&G, Suez and Terracycle collaboration to produce the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25% recycled beach plastic. I chronicled this in my article Partnerships for the goals, which you can find via the link below.

PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS

I thought the collaboration summed up nicely, how even titans like P&G and Suez couldn’t solve this problem alone and enlisted the help of recycling upstarts Terracycle to help make it a reality. It’s okay to not have all the answers yourselves. Just make sure you are collaborating and working with others to help make sustainability a reality.

I would say whilst a lot of pressure and momentum was building on plastics in 2018, there has been less progress towards creating a circular economy. This would be an economy made up of a majority of businesses employing a circular economy business model. I chronicled this in my article How to overcome the main barrier to the circular economy, which you can find via the link below.

HOW TO OVERCOME THE MAIN BARRIER TO THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Creating a fully circular economy business model is tough. This explains why progress in this area has been slow. But there is good news. Things that are hardest to achieve are generally the most worthwhile. I remain confident that we will see major breakthroughs on circular economy principles in the not too distant future.

2. Carbon targets

This year and every year for the foreseeable future sustainability will be dominated by one problem, carbon. Whether through the combustion of fossil fuels or deforestation and forest degradation human societies continue to emit massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This carbon is creating a greenhouse effect which is causing a rise in temperatures at a planetary scale.

One article that I published this year that I was very surprised by the response to was my article on Elon Musk’s perspective on climate change. You can find this via the link below.

ELON MUSK ON CLIMATE CHANGE

I was not really prepared for the response that I receive to this. But Elon Musk is a pretty cool guy, very intelligent and he certainly knows how to capture the attention of millennials. Hopefully when people read it, they internalised his central message, which is that this is a big problem that requires fundamental solutions.

One of the most impressive carbon initiatives that was launched in 2018 was Maersk’s new carbon targets.

In December Maersk announced its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. To achieve this, carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030 and new innovations and adaption of new technology is required.

I was really impressed by this and it’s now up for competitors in their industry to see if they can do it quicker.

I thought I chronicled the need for zero-based targets rather well in my article that you can find via the link below. One may be the loneliest number, but as far as sustainability goes, zero is the most important number there is.

WHY ZERO-BASED TARGETS ARE SO POWERFUL

 

3. Thinking bigger about sustainability

This is a trend that I hope will spill over from 2018 and continue to get bigger in 2019.

Whether it is through partnerships with others or ambitious individual targets, it is clear that businesses need to think bigger about sustainability.

I was pleased with the response to my article about Interface, which you can find via the link below.

IS THIS THE BEST SUSTAINABILITY POLICY OF ALL TIME?

 

I still maintain that they remain unmatched at the pinnacle of corporate sustainability. But goals are made to be broken and hopefully we see some new entrants in 2019.

I was blown away by the response to my article about the Net Positive Project, which you can find via the link below.

HOW TO MAKE SUSTAINABILITY GREAT

I think it shows that there is a clear yearning to move sustainability on from being about “being less bad” to creating businesses that are good actors who give back to the communities in which they are based. Hopefully 2019 is a big year for the Net Positive Project.

What you need to know

This article looked into a personal milestone that I will have achieved in 2018, by uploading something new to my website every single Sunday for a year.

We also looked into some interesting facts about wrapping paper. Christmas is known as a time of indulgence and not a time of sustainability. We can only hope consumers buying habits change in the future.

We then looked into 3 things that I believe characterised sustainability in 2018. These were:

1. Plastics and the circular economy

2. Carbon targets

3. Thinking bigger about sustainability

Overall, there is a lot to be positive about in 2018. Sustainability continues to rise in importance in corporate agendas. You can always complain that there is not enough change happening fast enough. But there has been a good foundation laid and things are certainly heading in the right direction.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think defines sustainability in 2018?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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