(PHOTO: in the Radio 4 studio with presenters Paddy O’Connell and Carolyn Quinn)
When I first spoke to Xavier from the BBC’s Planning Department, “We’ve got a fun idea,” he said. “We’re going to be doing something on packaging for Radio 4’s PM programme and wondered if you’d be up for a delve in our presenter’s bin.”
As regular readers know, give me a bin, no matter who it belongs to, and I am as happy as kid in a candy shop discovering what lies within. And when I heard it was Paddy O’Connell, who last year chewed over the issue of food waste with Love Food Hate Waste’s Emma Marsh, I couldn’t wait to see what was in his bin bags.
If you’re quick, you can hear the snippets of our bin rummage and shopping trip on BBC iPlayer’s Radio app, which were broadcast last week as part of a week-long series. As well as addressing the problems with packaging, the series covered some of the innovations too and also took a glimpse at the awesome 68% recycling rate over in Ceredigion. Friday concluded with a panel debate answering some of the listeners’ questions.
In Monday’s broadcast you can hear Paddy and I discussing all sorts of topics from tea, gin & tonic, shirt packaging, black plastic and plastic milk bottles. More info about the changes in plastic milk bottle design that now contains less overall plastic & more recycled content can be found here. Tuesday’s bin audit revealed that Paddy’s recycling wasn’t as perfect as he’d hoped but having taken him through the postcode locator at www.recyclenow.com, his bins are most definitely in better shape.
I was really encouraged by the constructive approach taken by the programme. Whilst not shying away from the scale of the problems we face in waste, PM shone a spotlight on what works rather than just bashing what doesn’t. Throughout the week PM’s listeners provided great comments, tips and questions, so if you have time it’s definitely worth catching up with each segment.
Inevitably, there wasn’t enough time to cover all the questions or indeed all the issues and opportunities. If we’d had longer, it would have been great to have covered the rise of stores that sell unpackaged goods SESI in Oxford and Unpackaged in Muswell Hill. And I would have looked supermarkets in the eye (well, as much as you can down the mic of a radio studio) to ask that they do more to reduce packaging and take responsibility for helping people recycle packaging where local systems don’t. They need to retain their in-store plastic bag collection points and be more pro-active in advertising that clean stretchy wrappers can be included too.
If you enjoyed the coverage and would love to take further steps to reduce, reuse and recycle your way out from your bin, please do have a go at the Rubbish Diet Challenge. Most people reduce their waste by a whopping third within just three weeks, and others by even more. Our emails include loads of interesting facts that you can share with your family and friends to get them slimming too.
Thanks again to Radio 4’s PM programme for inviting me along, to Carolyn Quinn for being a great host and to Paddy O’Connell for letting me inside his bins – and of course for being such a fabulous mentee.
The timings for each of the features is as follows:
Mon 9 Jan – @24 minutes – Shopping with Paddy
Tue 10 Jan – @36 minutes – Paddy’s bins
Wed 11 Jan – @45 minutes – Recycling in Wales
Thu 12 Jan – @20 minutes – Innovations in packaging