The 5Rs rule

The 5Rs rule

The 5Rs rule

The 5Rs ? The golden rule “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot” or “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and give back to the earth” comes from Bea Johnson’s book  Zero Waste and enables us to structure an approach to reducing our waste, including plastic.

REFUSE

 

It is simply saying no to what we may not need, asking ourselves if the product is really useful.

A survey (available here) of 24,000 people in 24 countries showed a change in behaviours towards avoiding plastic waste. In 2021, 44% of people responded that they avoid buying products with a lot of packaging, compared to 39% of people in 2019. In France, in 2021, 47% of consumers responded that they reject “excessive” plastic packaging. Despite the limitations of the study, the evolution of the figures obtained still shows a growing awareness and motivation to refuse certain plastics.

According to the Climate & Resilience Law, since 1 July 2022, it is no longer allowed to provide a sample to a consumer as part of a commercial approach, unless the consumer himself requests it.

REDUCE

To tackle plastic waste, the best solution is to produce as little as possible. What we cannot refuse, we will try to reduce it: it requires questioning our habits, questioning our consumption way, buying less but better, making things durable…

The guide Zéro déchet, zéro gaspi of Zero Waste France suggests the BISOU method to question the acts of consumption:

B is for Besoin (Need): what need does it answer?

I for Immediat (Immédiat): can I wait a few days before deciding?

S as in Semblable (Similar): do I already have an object that has this utility?

O is for Origine (Origin): what is the origin of this product?

U is for Utile (Useful): will this object bring me a primary comfort?

If this method applies mostly to consumer decisions, we can ask similar questions for companies: What needs does the product meet? What are these reasons for being? Can we answer these needs in other ways? How can we reduce its functions to the essential?

Among the possible ways of reduction, we can try to limit the over-packaging, but also the “over-quality” of products. Indeed, while plastics have many advantages and increasingly advanced properties, we observe the development of excessive requirements. To reduce is to seek to achieve the “right packaging”; eco-responsible and with satisfying properties, but not oversized.  It also means reducing the purchase of new goods, considering the use of second hand or reconditioned, or reducing the impact of transportation by buying local products.

RECYCLING

Recycling means reintegrating materials from a product at the end of its life into a new product. This allows a new life cycle to be started again, from a material that is not virgin. While there is no universal definition of recycling, we can use the European definition to refine our understanding of the subject:

Recycling” means any recovery operation by which waste is reprocessed into products, materials or substances for its original function or for other purposes. This includes the reprocessing of organic material, but does not include energy recovery, conversion for use as fuel or for landfill operations.

[Directive 2008/98/CE]

Why recycle?

  • To reduce our waste, and therefore its inherent pollution, some materials (such as plastic) take centuries to degrade.
  • To preserve natural resources, as recycled material allows us to reduce the amount of material we have to extract.
  • To save money and create local jobs in the area.
  • To imitate nature and its closed loop system. In nature, waste does not exist and matter is constantly transformed…

Recyclable vs. Recycled: when we talk about packaging, we sometimes hear that it is recyclable, but this does not mean that it will be effectively recycled at 100%. Indeed, to be recycled, the packaging must be :

  • Collected, for example by throwing it in a yellow bin
  • Sorted, in a sorting centre according to its material
  • Prepared, that the different elements are separated, that the material is washed and crushed
  • Regenerated, the raw material is recycled and can then be re-integrated into a new product

 

 

ROT

Giving back to the Earth some of the resources we’ve taken from it is the final step in putting our waste to good use. Composting is a solution for reducing the volume of your trash cans: in your house or apartment, in the country or in the city, thanks to composters, you can recycle your vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds… and biodegradable/compostable packaging… 

To see more clearly on the subject, let’s go over some definitions: 

Composting is a process of transformation of fermentable materials (which can enter into fermentation) in controlled conditions of temperature, pressure and/or in the presence of micro-organisms. It allows to obtain a fertilizing material, the compost. In France, standards define the compostability criteria in industrial and domestic conditions.

Biodegradable qualifies materials that can be degraded in a reasonable time by living organisms, into water, CO2, methane and possibly into non-toxic residues (e.g. biomass). Thus, the properties of biodegradability do not depend solely on the raw material of a packaging, and do not allow valorization.

Thus all biodegradable packaging is not necessarily compostable! Moreover, these transformations depend on the parameters of the environment; in case of leakage in the ocean for example, a biodegradable or compostable plastic could persist much longer than in the conditions of a laboratory or a composter. The priority remains to reduce the use of plastics at the source, and for that we refer you to the other Rs : 1st R – Refuse, 2nd R – Reduce… 

REUSE

What is reuse, what is repurpose? The distinction between these two words is sometimes difficult to apprehend. This one resides in reality by the transition or not of the good by the status of waste in its end of life. Where a reused good will have been considered at one stage of its life as “used waste”, a reused product will not be considered as waste even between two cycles of use.

The following definitions of the French Environmental Code (art. L541-1-1) moreover enable this distinction:

Reuse :

Any operation by which substances, materials or products that are not waste are used again for a use identical to that for which they were designed.

Reutilization :

Any operation by which substances, materials or products that have become waste are used again.

We identify 2 different models of reuse:

Refill: the packaging belongs to the consumer and is refilled at home or at the store. The refill trends are: customization of packaging, automatic refill by subscription or customization of delivery systems (choice of quantity, choice of flavors…)

Return: the ownership of the packaging is transferred to the company when it is returned from home (collection system) or when it is brought back to the store. The seller is then responsible for washing it and making it available for the same use. Return trends include: companies sharing infrastructure, using smart tracking systems (especially to monitor deposit payout), or selling the packaging as a service to amortize logistics costs. 

Beware, some materials cannot be recycled ad infinitum, and require the addition of new raw materials each time, this is for example the case of plastic. Others, although technically infinitely recyclable, consume a lot of energy to regenerate the material at each cycle, such as glass, which has to be heated in ovens to 1500°C…

Thus, the priority remains to reduce our use at source.

As far as the plastic is concerned, we invite you to go and see :
The fact sheet we produced as part of our BeMed mission
The Mr & Mrs Recycling website ♻️, a real mine of information on the subject to sort out the real from the fake.

Source of pictures : Zero déchet, zéro gaspi written by Zero Waste France
ConsultantSeas through the One Ocean Summit

ConsultantSeas through the One Ocean Summit

ConsultantSeas through the One Ocean Summit

The city of Brest, home of ConsultantSeas, hosted the One Ocean Summit on February 9, 10 and 11 in its Ateliers des Capucins. With the objective of raising the level of ambition of the international community on maritime issues, the event brought together about 40 heads of state and ministers, the President of the European Commission and the President of the Council. Within the scope of the Summit, several events were organized throughout the city of Brest on the ocean theme. Let’s have a look at our involvement during this week rich in encounters and learnings.

 

Waves of Breizh

ConsultantSeas was invited to speak at the “Waves of Breizh” event (see the article written by the Telegram on the subject), organized by Waves of Change in partnership with the Village by CA. The objective of the event was to go “from pact to action” by bringing together actors of the Breton territory through four collaborative workshops to address issues raised by Hoali, Movin’On (Michelin), the Ocean Climate Platform and ConsultantSeas. Marie was able to share with the participants the methods and arguments to convince a CEO to engage his organization in a project to reduce its plastic footprint, while Elodie and Camille worked with other groups on the challenges of port decarbonation and selling liquids in bulk. It was a rich moment of exchange and we thank all the participants and organizers of this workshop.

Welcoming our network of partners on our home in Brest

During this time, Diane represented ConsultantSeas at the Apér’Océan organized by the RespectOcean network, of which ConsultantSeas is a member. A great opportunity to share a convivial moment with the network and to create new links!

Many of our clients and partners were also present and active during the forum. Among them were Surfrider Foundation, the Tara Ocean Foundation, the Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique team and the Campus Mondial de la Mer.

Main advances in plastic pollution during the summit

From these different sessions but also from the Leaders’ Summit on Friday, February 11th, the following main advances concerning plastic pollution were achieved:

  • 4 new countries, the city of Paris and the maritime region of Central Greece joined the 500 signatories of the “Global Commitment to a New Plastics Economy” supported by the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation.
  • Two European banks and the French, German, Italian and Spanish development agencies have pledged to double their contribution to the “Clean Oceans Initiative”, which finances projects to reduce marine plastics, representing a sum of 4 billion euros by 2025.
  • In France, the government has announced the treatment of 50 coastal landfills identified as priorities to prevent plastic waste from leaking into the sea.
  • The perspective of an international treaty on plastic pollution has also been announced with the next UN General Assembly in sight.

The follow-up in a few weeks!

 

 

The ConsultantSeas team wishes you all a happy new year 2022!

The ConsultantSeas team wishes you all a happy new year 2022!

The ConsultantSeas team wishes you all a happy new year 2022!

We would like to take you on a brief journey through the highlights of the past year and the projects to come. Welcome aboard!

ConsultantSeas has sailed through this year with many projects. It was a key moment for the BeMed Business Club that we support, which now has 12 member companies involved and motivated to prevent plastic pollution in the Mediterranean. It was also the start of the pilot project “Towards a zero single-use plastic hotel” at the InterContinal Marseille – Hotel Dieu, with concrete actions to eliminate, reduce or replace single-use plastics. We are also adding local reuse loops* to our technical stopovers missions. In 2021, ConsultantSeas has also built up its presence in Brest through events such as Ressour’seas and meetings, in particular thanks to the publication of an article on our work in the Télégramme.

ConsultantSeas will continue to stay the course in 2022: new partnerships and diversification of missions are on the agenda, always working at all levels, from Finistère to the international level.

Increasing our visibility was also part of our 2021 sailing program. Last October, part of the team made a stopover in Lyon during the Pollutec forum to take part in the first edition of the Mer & Littoral Forum: a highlight which we summarise here. Our website was redesigned and got a new look in 2021! In 2022, our events radar will guide us first to the One Ocean Summit in February and then to the Plastic Summit in July, both of which will take place in Brest.

The road and the course could not have been kept without a rich and fulfilling life onboard in parallel. In 2021, ConsultantSeas has had its team doubled in size in one year: we are now 6 full-time employees. Louise and Manon are exploring new horizons, allowing Camille, Juliette and Pascal to join as junior consultants, right-hand to the CEO, BeMed project manager and senior consultant, strategy and growth.
ConsultantSeas will continue its cruise with a team of 6 full-time staff in 2022 and hopes to keep on board as much good humour, group cohesion and great team moments. ConsultantSeas is now moored in offices within the Village by CA Finistère: a privileged opportunity to benefit from the team’s expertise and network. We should be moving to new offices in Brest in 2022.

Our crew is ready to take on the surprises of the coming year and to continue to strengthen and grow!

* Article L541-1-1 of the Environmental Code, reuse refers to “any operation by which substances, materials or products that are not waste are used again for a use identical to that for which they were designed.”

Corporations and plastic pollution

Corporations and plastic pollution

Corporations and plastic pollution

Reducing plastic pollution is a challenge that is receiving increasing attention from multinational companies. While private sector engagement remains a major pillar in addressing the plastics crisis, the diversity of actors, levels of engagement and approaches makes this a complex challenge.

In an article entitled “Corporations and plastic pollution: Trends in reporting” and published in the journal Sustainable Futures in 2021, researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Duke University study corporate reports of the 200 largest multinationals published between 2010 and 2019, i.e. more than 2300 reports. The objective is to understand the degree of importance – of “materiality” – that multinationals give to plastic, the circular economy and waste, through the analysis of their corporate reports. The analysis shows that these issues have become important to the extent that the number of reports mentioning “plastic pollution” has increased by almost 20% between 2016 and 2019. It is particularly in consumer goods sector reporting that the issue of plastic pollution is becoming more prominent, compared to the oil, automotive and gas sectors. The researchers note that this trend also corresponds to a growing consumer demand for pollution reduction. In fact, the different levels of engagement by multinationals across sectors and geographical areas reflect the complexity of the issue.
An in-depth analysis of reports from 37 of the 200 multinationals shows that engagement varies according to a number of factors. For example, there is a widening gap in commitment between companies which do or do not participate in ‘green clubs‘ already committed to plastics and waste issues (such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy Club); participation in these clubs encourages corporations to be forward-thinking and to make the transition towards plastic pollution reduction. On the contrary, the lack of standards to guide them towards plastic reduction reinforces the variations between the different levels of commitment. This in-depth analysis ultimately reveals how the private sector focuses on recycling rather than the whole plastic life cycle; the challenges are actually broader and the authors call for a whole system approach. The authors argue for the need to ensure that corporate reports encompass more data, for instance with interviews, and include plastics issues. The paper concludes with the importance of examining the role of green clubs and the need to foster the engagement of plastic producers.

 

An example of plastic pollution consequences.
The article recalls a number of elements that are directly consistent with the activities of ConsultantSeas. It states that the private sector is one of the essential levers of action for solving plastic pollution by acting, among other things, on the production and design of goods and packaging, as well as on their management once they have become waste. ConsultantSeas dedicates part of its assignments to supporting companies in the development, implementation and evaluation of their strategy to reduce their plastic impact. However, meeting these challenges will not be possible without a real multi-stakeholder effort along the plastic value chain. This is why we are also working on the dynamics of “green clubs”. For example, we have been mandated to lead the BeMed Business College, which helps companies to go further collectively than legislation requires and individual action allows. Beyond the involvement of all actors, the resolution of the problem must also take into account all levels of the plastic life cycle to initiate a profound change in the paradigm in which we find ourselves. Finally, the impact of the actions taken must be monitored; ConsultantSeas assists its clients in monitoring and implementing reporting tools on the subject.
The ConsultantSeas team is back from Pollutec!

The ConsultantSeas team is back from Pollutec!

The ConsultantSeas team is back from Pollutec!

Back from the Pollutec 2021 exhibition, we offer you an insight into our learnings and the highlights of our participation.

The tone of this edition was set at the opening ceremony of the Sea and Coast forum: the challenges of plastic pollution at sea must be tackled through the commitment of stakeholders on land, a vision shared by our consultancy. Raphaëla Le Gouvello, the sponsor of the forum and founder of the RespectOcean network, of which ConsultantSeas is a member, led this first conference on the challenges of protecting the ocean, and the Mediterranean in particular.

Marie, Elodie and Camille were able to move among 50,000 visitors and 2,200 exhibitors, who came to discuss the issues and solutions for the ecological transition. Through meetings on our stand and B2B meetings, we were able to meet new players, answer questions on plastics strategies and initiate new partnerships. An opportunity to explore new synergies at the crossroads of plastic pollution and ocean preservation.

It was also a great opportunity to meet again with members of the BeMed Business College and the RespectOcean network and to share a pleasant moment.

The ConsultantSeas team with Lucile Courtial and Florent Kohler. 

Camille, Marie and Elodie in front of the booth.

Plastic-related issues were at the forefront of more than 400 conferences at Pollutec and about 20 at the Sea and Coast forum. Key players Patrick Deixonne (Expedition 7th Continent) and Simon Bernard (Plastic Odyssey) reminded us of the importance of multi-sector and multi-partner action to reduce plastic upstream of pollution at sea.

The Director of ConsultantSeas, Marie Le Texier, led a conference on the role of companies in preventing plastic pollution. This was an opportune moment for our guests Lucile Courtial (Secretary-General of the BeMed association) and Florent Kohler (Area Key Account Director of the InterContinental Marseille – Bordeaux – Lyon) who came to share their experience in terms of multi-stakeholder commitments to move towards systemic changes and reduce plastic pollution at sea. 

As a bonus, this week also saw the announcement of Brest as the host city for the One Ocean Summit early next year. This is very good news for the region’s dynamic approach to maritime issues!

The Pollutec exhibition, and more particularly the Sea and Coast forum, was a key event in the ConsultantSeas agenda to exchange with an ecosystem of players in the ecological transition, to communicate on the firm’s work and to draw attention to the challenges of marine plastic pollution. 

A big thank you to all of you for coming to discuss with our team at Pollutec!

Marie Le Texier with Lucile Courtial and Florent Kohler during the conference.