Guest Blog: Are you an unwitting polluter?

GUEST BLOG: Eco-conscious consumers are cutting plastic, but confused about how they can help most…

When it comes to recycling, do you have the best of intentions, but not always the information or knowledge to match? Are you an unwitting polluter? In this SustMeme Guest Post, Yanyan Ji, SVP Marketing at Gazelle, a known leader in electronic waste, talks us through the findings of a representative survey of British consumers, which explored their environmental beliefs and lifestyle behaviours, plus, in some cases, the disconnect between the two…

YJ: New research finds 83% of Britons are doing more than ever to cut the amount of plastic they use and throw away. Women are leading this plastic-cutting charge with 90% saying their desire to use less is higher than ever.

However, the survey, which was carried out by the phone-recycling company, Gazelle, also found that over 35 million Brits (57% of those surveyed) are still risking dangerous chemicals leaching into the ground and contaminating our soils and waterways, by throwing away electronic gadgets such as old phones.

The ‘Attenborough effect’ as it’s becoming known is in evidence. Eight out of ten people (81%) who have watched shows like Blue Planet and Climate Change: The Facts say that the programmes have made them re-evaluate their behaviour and consider the environment more.

For example, when at the supermarket, 67% of shoppers now consider environmental factors when choosing what to buy, rather than selecting products solely based on price.

Yet despite Brits’ noble intentions, eight out of ten (81%) of us say that they want to do more to help the environment, but feel confused about what can and cannot be reused or recycled.

Over half (57%) of those surveyed admit to having put a phone, laptop, tablet, charger, or other electrical item in the household bin in the last year. And on average, just one third of us (34%) have recycled our phones or tablets.

Well intentioned, but ultimately ill-informed Brits tend to go online to find out how to reduce their impact on the environment, with nearly 9 in 10 Brits saying that would consult the internet on specific eco-advice.

It’s been estimated that only 15-20 percent of all e-waste is recycled, and the rest ends up in landfill. Our latest research suggests the cause of that isn’t consumers being unwilling to change their behaviour – rather, they don’t always know what to do.

When asked what they recycled, the top ten items were found to be:

  1. Plastic bottles: 92 %
  2. Cans: 88 %
  3. Newspapers and magazines: 86 %
  4. Cardboard: 86 %
  5. Glass bottles: 85 %
  6. Hard plastic containers: 70 %
  7. Batteries: 59 %
  8. Aerosols: 56 %
  9. Mobile phones and tablets: 34 %
  10. Televisions: 26 %

Here at Gazelle, we’re hoping to play our part by making it clearer and easier than ever for people to trade in old phones, get instant payment, and avoid contributing to e-waste in landfill. Our 26 kiosks across the UK will even take phones that are beyond repair, and responsibly recycle them, diverting them from landfill.

Smart. Simple. Rewarding.


More information on Gazelle, what it does to reduce e-waste, plus how to locate a kiosk nearby in the UK, can be found on the company’s website: https://uk.gazelle.com/



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SUSTMEME: Get the Susty Story Straight!

Explainer: How Microplastics Threaten Our Environment

Microplastic pollution is being found everywhere, literally: it is in our rivers; on our gardens; in the food we eat; it is even now in human poop.

Perhaps the worst aspect of microplastic pollution is that no effective and efficient way of removing the full range of debris has yet been found.

The EU has, however, recently proposed a wide-ranging ban on the use of ‘intentionally added’ microplastics, which if approved into law could see a phase-out starting 2020.

Meantime, recovering plastics from oceans and recycling them before they start to break down into small fragments is one way to fight this kind of pollution. When recycled, these plastics are used to create sustainable products.

This excellent infographic below, from Roman Chaloupka and GreenMatch, tells us more about how Microplastics Threaten Our Environment.

You can view the original, also learn about becoming ‘waste aware’ and fighting pollution, as well as the creators themselves here; plus Follow them on Twitter.

Micro Plastic Pollution

Plastics & Circularity: ‘Future of Packaging’ in The Times

New writing…. Pleased to say I have had another couple of articles published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Packaging.

Ocean plastic is not a new problem, however it took David Attenborough and Blue Planet II to turn the tide of public opinion. My opening article investigates how prime-time endorsement of the core sustainability message proved a public gamechanger, but there is still a long way to go before we reach peak plastic in our waste streams. From high-street retail and global brands, to entrepreneurial start-ups and consumer activism, I am sharing smart insights of key influencers and seeking out sustainable solutions to the problems of a packaging sector under intense pressure. Issues are complex and commercial realities a challenge, but the question remains:

‘What next after Blue Planet?’

The first step towards fixing something is often to admit it is actually broken. Well, the plastics system is broken. So, since the problem is big, the fix must be even bigger, right? My second piece for the report explores how society must move away from the ‘take, make, dispose’ mindset that has long-informed linear consumption patterns and business models, towards a win-win scenario that simultaneously keeps plastics in the economy, but out of the environment. This discussion of proposals and prospects for the New Plastics Economy and UK Plastics Pact includes interviews with project leads at both the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP UK:

‘UK Plastics Pact is central to forming a circular economy’

The full 24-page Future of Packaging report is available to view/download here.

Sustainability & Waste: ‘Future of Packaging’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another couple of pieces published in The Times newspaper today, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Packaging.

The Overview article which opens the report discusses whether sustainable packaging is ready yet to make the leap from niche to mainstream:

‘Resolving the Riddle of Sustainability’.

My second piece on Page 7 argues that tackling the number one problem of packaging waste demands upcycling the way wethink about the industry and the resource it produces :

‘Thinking outside the Burger Box’.

The full 16-page Future of Packaging report is available to view/download here.

From Re-use and Repair, to Sensors and Smart Tech


New writing Two more of my recent pieces for Guardian Sustainable Business are now live. Running in their paid-content section on Sustainable Electricals, sponsored by WRAP, the articles explore the business case for adoption and promotion of circular economy models in the sector, with particular reference to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE):

The full Guardian series on Sustainable Electricals with WRAP can be viewed here.

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