6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment – UK.

Module code and title : 6HR005 – Social Responsibility
Assessment type : Case Study
Assessment weighting : 100%
Assessment limits : 4,000 words with an allowance of +10% will be accepted.Figures tables diagrams specified in the assignment brief, appendices and the reference list are NOT included in this word limit.
6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment – UK.

6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment

Assessment brief :-
Paper and email submissions will NOT be marked.
You will Not gain marks for simply explaining information or copying and pasting the case study information from the brief into your answer. You should ensure that the majority of your answer is used to analyse the information using relevant theories from academic sources.

In writing your responses, you should use a range of text books and at least two peer-reviewed journal articles to support your analysis across the whole assignment.

Each answer is worth 25% of the final mark and should be approximately 1,000 words in length.To achieve a pass, you Must answer all four questions.

6HR005 Case Study – Single Use Plastic
As well as this case study it is Strongly Recommended that you read up to p 25 and from pp 64-73 of the following report which is the source for much of the information below.

Case Study :
Plastic is an incredibly versatile and useful material, used in many different ways.However much of the plastic we use these days is used only once and thrown away. Flexible packaging of this type, particularly for foodstuffs is used to protect food from damage and extend its shelf life.One argument for the continued use of this type of plastic is that it can have a lower environmental impact because of its protection of its contents.For example,it could be argued that it takes less energy, water, land use and carbon dioxide to grow a cucumber which is wrapped in a plastic film and has a shelf life of 14 days than it does to grow a cucumber which is not wrapped and has a shelf life of just 3 days, meaning more cucumbers have to be grown and transported to meet the same demand. There are however compelling arguments for better management of single use plastics.

“The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are, in order of magnitude, cigarette
butts, plastic drinking bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids,straws and stirrers, other types of plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. These are the waste products of a throwaway culture that treats plastic as a disposable material rather than a valuable resource to be harnessed.”

Much of this plastic is not recycled, often because the type of plastic is difficult to recycle or because it
is difficult to find a use for recycled plastic, but also because recycling levels globally are very low.

Plastic is usually made from petroleum oil and although it degrades i.e. breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, it does not BIODEGRADE which means that it does not break down or decompose into
a natural product like soil. As the plastic degrades, it releases many of the toxic chemicals which were added to it during its manufacture, and these are released into the environment.

The UN states that only about 9% of the nine billion tonnes of plastic ever produced, has been recycled. They estimate that by 2050 the volume of plastic litter will exceed 12 billion tonnes if we don’t address the issue and that the plastics industry could use 20% of the world’s oil consumption.

The environmental problems caused by plastic waste are manifold: in water they can block waterways
and sewers, causing flooding, breeding grounds for mosquitoes and being eaten by animals on land
and in the sea; it can get into the food chain and ingesting it can cause damage to the nervous systems; burning plastic waste in poor countries causes pollution and releases toxic chemicals to be breathed in; it costs shipping, fishing and tourism industries worldwide around $2 billion. Total economic damage to the marine ecosystem is estimated to be at least $13 billion every year.

Much single use plastic packaging has replaced other more traditional types of packaging for example
glass bottles for milk; paper wrappings for foodstuffs. A significant proportion of plastic waste is this
single use plastic, and there are a number of factors which affect the ability of the material to be recycled. These include how the plastic is made, what type of plastic it is made from and whether it has been combined with other materials e.g. crisp packets. Consequently, it is estimated that about 79% of plastic waste ever produced is in landfill; 12% has been incinerated and 9% recycled. Different countries and regions are approaching the management of this in different ways. For example in 2017 a European agreement was reached to aim to increase plastic packaging recycling to 55% by 2030.

There are a range of issues related to the effective management of single use plastic waste.

6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment – UK.

6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment

Reduction of single use plastic is one approach.This is being driven by a range of activities including research into alternatives to non-biodegradable, petroleum based plastics. Additionally in many countries public pressure is informing government strategies and in others voluntary agreements in reduction of single use plastic are increasing. All of these are supporting the achievement of local,national and global targets on the reduction of single use plastic.

To improve waste management it is necessary to sort waste more effectively at source collect and store it safely and then recycle more products more cost effectively and send less to landfill. This will help reduce issues such as the impact on biodiversity.

However recycling itself brings its own challenges. Plastic waste needs to be clean and sorted for it to
be suitable for recycling and this process can be hindered by things like putting unwashed plastic packaging out for recycling or putting plastics which cannot be recycled in with waste for recycling.

For many years developed countries have sent their plastic recycling to other often developing,countries to be recycled. In recent years this practice has stopped, primarily because countries which have been taking this waste such as China and Malaysia have changed what waste they will take and process.This has been due to a growing understanding of the impact of this waste on their own local environments.This has meant that many countries are now having to reconsider how they manage their plastic waste.

Companies like Terra cycle are involved in programmes to collect and recycle packaging like crisp packets which are difficult to recycle, they are also involved in collections for specific suppliers of toiletries and cleaning product packaging and used coffee capsules. However, many of their collection points are run by volunteers rather than companies.

6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment – UK.

6HR005 Social Responsibility Assignment

What about alternatives to single use plastic? There are a number of organisations looking at alternatives. Cellulose based containers which are fully compost able are being designed in Sweden Harvard University has created a compost able clear plastic from shrimp shells and silk protein.Compost able packaging usually requires industrial composting facilities with high temperatures and specific conditions where it ends up in ordinary landfill it can release environmentally damaging greenhouse gases.Other options being researched are compost able cups from seaweed, edible membranes (to mimic things like grape skins) and water soluble plastic membranes (used on laundry and dishwasher tablets).

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