Ending Plastic Pollution in Vertical Farming

This year, Earth Day is on the 22nd of April. World Environment Day is on 5th June. Both have chosen plastic pollution as their theme for 2018, with a particular focus on single-use plastics. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish by weight. The importance of this issue cannot be understated:

"From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet." - Earth Day Network

Everybody, in all realms of society--from governments to businesses to consumers--has a role to play in reducing and eventually eliminated our reliance on single-use plastics.

The controlled-environment and urban agriculture industry, despite many innovations in sustainability, is challenged like everybody else by the convenience of single-use plastics, especially as it pertains to product packaging. In this vein, we want to share a note from our friend Mark Horler at The Soya Project, who has launched a campaign to reduce plastic use in the industry:

"As an industry, we are quite reliant on plastics, particularly single-use plastics for packaging of produce. I'm sure we all got into this industry recognising the importance of sustainability. Though our overall impact is small at this stage, we surely have a duty to do what we can. Moreover, public sentiment is rapidly turning against single-use plastics, meaning that we will all have to face this issue sooner or later anyway.

The two dates of these international days therefore represent a window of opportunity for our industry. Working together, we can amplify our voice and the recognition of our collective efforts. We all start from different positions, and so it must be recognised of course, that there are limitations on what can be achieved within the short time frame. We are therefore proposing a few simple concrete steps that can be taken, as follows:

  1. On April 22nd - We publicly (via social media etc) 'launch the initiative', with all those agreeing to be part of it, posting/tweeting under unified hashtags (#EndPlasticPollution & #BeatPlasticPollution respectively + others as you see fit). 
  2. Participants agree to assess their use of plastics (esp. single-use) between April 22nd and 5th June.
  3. On 5th June - Participants release those assessments publicly; Participants release a plan of how to reduce their plastic use (time-frame and method for this reduction would be up to each individual organisation)

This is rapidly becoming one of the defining environmental issues of 2018. Our customers will expect and indeed demand action from us. Between us, we can reach many companies and so have a big impact, for a relatively small amount of effort. We can also begin the longer discussions and processes that need to take place, to bring about better and lasting solutions."

We applaud all who join the global effort this Earth Day and World Environment Day to end plastic pollution! If you would like to learn more about Mark's plastic-reduction campaign and/or get your company involved over these next few weeks, then please visit the campaign website here.