A new not-for-profit organisation, Changing Streams, has been established by an entrepreneur from Liverpool in a bid to remove plastic from the construction industry.
Neal Maxwell, who has worked in the construction industry for more than 30 years, founded the organisation alongside researchers from the University of Liverpool, after a trip to the Arctic left him appalled by the levels of plastic pollutants in the Arctic Ocean.
He is now appealing for UK and international businesses across every industry, especially those involved in the built environment, to join him in his mission to eradicate the use of plastic on a global scale. This includes contractors, material manufacturers, the A&D community, surveyors and property owners, as well as any company or individual who believes in this cause.
Businesses can pledge their support by joining a new membership programme that has been set up with the aim of raising awareness of the global plastic problem and funding research into the development of environmentally friendly alternatives.
The construction sector is the second largest producer of plastic waste in the UK, after packaging. It is estimated the building trade generates 50,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, 40% of which is sent to landfill.
Changing Streams is bringing together experts from across the construction, scientific and environmental communities, to facilitate research and development programmes to drive a reduction in plastics in buildings and throughout the built environment supply chain.
The aims of Changing Streams, which says its current programme of activity could take significant steps towards making construction plastic-free by 2040, include:
- Creating awareness of the plastic epidemic and the impact it is having on the global ecosystem;
- Actively researching the development and use of new sustainable plastic-free alternatives;
- The phasing out of materials containing plastic within the construction industry;
- The creation of a scientific-based accreditation system to access plastic content in products
- The creation of a template house made without plastic;
- The end of the use of plastic wrapping for building materials such as bricks and cladding.
- An online workshop programme
- A new Charter
To achieve this, Changing Streams needs businesses to sign up as members and help engage, support and fund the research and innovation.
Membership benefits include: a series of networking events to share best practice and knowledge; regular communication via e-bulletins and a copy of the annual report; access to accredited training and technical webinars run by specialists; and the development of a bespoke individual action plan to help companies reduce their own plastic usage.
Neal said: “After my trip to the Arctic, I was shocked by the extent of the plastic problem and had to do something about it. I’ve worked in construction for over 30 years, so it was the obvious place to start. When I researched the major contribution my industry was actually having to the problem, I knew it was time for action on a global scale – and that has to start somewhere.
“We have already attracted a lot of support for Changing Streams from experts across the construction, scientific and environmental communities and have some exciting plans on how we can make our vision a reality. In order to achieve the future we want though, we need more support from businesses of every size and shape.
“At Changing Streams, we can open up doors for members to academic research and provide access to extensive knowledge platforms, which can help future-proof businesses and ensure they have a greener, more sustainable growth plan. It is only through this type of collaboration that we will be able to accomplish real change and ensure that plastic doesn’t become the asbestos of the future.
“We used to use asbestos throughout our industry before we knew the damage it was doing to our lungs. We know the damage plastic is doing to our planet and other species. Isn’t now the time to do something about the problem?”
There are many ways you can help Changing Streams in its mission to make the built environment go plastic free for future generations. For more information about membership, or other ways you support Changing Streams, visit changingstreams.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.