World Environment Day (WED) provides us with an opportunity to take action - and we have much to celebrate with improvements in our environment.

WED has been hit or miss in the past though; the theme for 2017 was announced late and preparation to celebrate was limited, with a national event in London gaining 30 delegates to hear five top quality speakers to debate the success and opportunities for natural capital and biodiversity. Working together as professionals, we have the potential to do so much more and engage beyond the ‘converted’ to really make a positive impact.

Making an impact

This year is different - the collaborative commitment from Willmott Dixon, Skanska, Siemens, Rolls Royce and Canary Wharf, supported by IEMA and SocEnv has laid the ground for a very successful event!

It’s not about just one day. We’re asking friends, colleagues and communities to consider what they can each do to play their part in tackling our love/hate for plastics - to challenge each to take a pledge, take action and take time to feedback, using the hashtag #pledgelessplastic

My pledge is to challenge why and how we use plastics and work with suppliers and organisations to reuse materials directly or indirectly in their value chain.

We’d like you to help! This could include sharing good ideas and pledges, whether as individuals, teams, community groups or organisations. We can all make a big difference – you’ll find everything you need to take part here.

Let's get back to the plastic problem…

Is the root cause of the problem the material or how it’s used? As with many readily available low-cost materials, the value given to plastic can be seen in how it is readily thrown away in the hedgerows and verges alongside our roads, railways, canals and streams. The pathway of plastic pollution is horrifically clear to see, from our communities, windblown or weather beaten into micro fragments to drains and watercourses.

Single use disposal, easy to use and forget, makes behaviour, respect and value for the material the core issue.

All materials have a value, if they’re respected, cared for as a material and avoid the tendency to discard that material. The trick is how we reuse that material so it is not regarded as waste.

One way is using takeback schemes. We are using the National Community Wood Recycling Scheme and are the first construction company to break the 10,000t and then 20,000t recycling milestones. Could an equivalent be generated for plastics? Or could our work with our PPE suppliers JSP to overcome the logistics challenge and to recover the discarded helmets, signage, facemask filter canisters and other high density plastics, that can be chipped and remoulded into non-hygiene grade materials such as traffic barriers?

Let’s use today to highlight our successes and ideas and celebrate any new initiatives that can help us all reduce our environmental impact – if we work together the future is bright!