The entrepreneurs fighting the war on plastic

22nd January 2018 | Commercial Energy

When Britain’s Cabinet ministers showed up for a meeting at Downing Street last week they were each presented with a gift from Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary: a reusable coffee cup.

“It’s very easy for people to be cynical of it,” admits David McLagan, founder of Ecoffee Cup, the brand Mr Gove opted for. The move certainly attracted plenty of snark on Twitter. But the column inches it attracted in the press could be beneficial for the business and its cause. Not that the “ware on plastic” is struggling for attention at the moment. Blue Planet’s images of albatrosses feeding their chicks toothpicks and turtles swimming among plastic sacks have taken recycling to the top of the political agenda.

Earlier this month Theresa May promised a new crackdown on plastic, extending the carrier bag charge to small retailers, banning single-use plastic from Government departments and encouraging supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles to environmentally conscious shoppers can steer clear of the now-loathed material.

War on plastic

Britain isn’t the only country gripped by anti-plastic fever. In recent months the United Nations passed a unanimous resolution committing its members to eliminating plastic pollution in the oceans, the EU called for every piece of packaging produced by 2030 to be recyclable and China banned imports of waste materials. Last week Evian pledged to use 100 per cent recycled bottles by 20205 and the next day Coca-Cola said it aimed to collect and recycle all its packaging by 2030.

This war on plastic is likely to prove a headache for some companies. But it’s also set to boost other firms that are developing alternative and finding innovative ways to turn waste plastic into something useful.

Ecoffee Cup is already growing apace. It sold 1m of its cups, which cost between£8 and £13, in 2016. McLagan says the company’s revenues are growing at 400 per cent per year. After the plastic bag charge reduced usage by 85 per cent, there’s talk of a “latte levy” on customers who don’t bring their own cups to coffee shops that would only boost the company further.

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