Have I Got News For News

23Apr18

Waste

The demise of newspapers has been great for the environment.

Nowadays, hardly anyone buys a daily paper. Imagine the amount of forests that are being saved because everything is online now.

There is no value in printed newspapers anymore. Look at the Evening Standard, you used to have to pay for it, now it’s free. There are people all over London handing them out but not everybody takes one, so sometimes they can’t even give them away.

The big problem is the waste. Every day, tons of newspapers are still being thrown away or left on public transport. It’s not as big a problem as plastic waste, which might make you think that paper is more environmentally friendly than plastic. Well if you look at the example of supermarket bags, it turns out that plastic bags are better for the environment than paper ones.

Plastic bags are thinner and lighter than paper ones, so it takes more fossil fuels to transport paper bags. Making paper means chopping down trees. Those trees could be absorbing carbon dioxide. The paper bag making processes uses 20 times more water than it takes to make plastic bags. A paper bag actually consumes 4 times as much energy in producing than a plastic one. Paper bags cause 70% more pollution and emit 80% more greenhouse gases than plastic.

Don’t get me wrong, plastic is a huge problem. It’s made from non-renewable energy sources. It causes a danger to wildlife and plastics take up to 500 years to decompose. Paper and plastic are both bad for the environment.

Is the solution biodegradable plastic? Technically what we are talking about here is “oxo-degradable” plastics. These are plastics made to degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight. Well, if it gets buried in a landfill it won’t degrade at all because it won’t get that sunlight or oxygen.

Oxo-degradable bags are made by adding metals like cobalt, iron or manganese to the plastic. Most manufacturers say they only put tiny amounts of metals into the plastic, but a US study found that one brand contained “very high levels of lead and cobalt”. That’s not good for the environment.

Maybe the answer is edible bags. I’m serious, think about it, you bring home your shopping, wash the bags under the tap, cut them up into squares and wrap them around something tasty, pop that little parcel in the oven for twenty minutes and enjoy a bag burrito!

If free newspapers were edible, you could read the news and have a snack on your way home.

There might be a business opportunity here. How about launching a snack sized, edible, general-interest family magazine, full of inspiring stories, hilarious jokes and surprising advice on health and weight loss?

You could call it, Reader’s Digest!

Craic on!

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