As an environmentally-driven organisation, we encourage minimal travel, are geared up for the remote working of our staff and have regular meetings online. In the current situation, this experience gave us the confidence required to replace a full-day European Commission stakeholder engagement workshop in Brussels, with a 2-hour interactive webinar for 65 attendees, which is being followed by smaller topic-focused break-out discussions. Given that, in normal circumstances,  participants would have travelled to Brussels from across the EU, we have estimated that the webinar saved approximately 20 tonnes of CO2.

We have been working on the European Commission’s (DG Environment) ‘Conventional and biodegradable plastics in agriculture’ project since January. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of current end-of-life waste management of both conventional and biodegradable agricultural plastics across Europe and is hugely important because it is one of the first studies to do so. Ultimately, the outcome will inform a suite of possible policy options to ensure the sustainable future management of agricultural plastics.

Alongside European-wide research, our work includes an in-depth review of twelve member states and research into the volume and types of both conventional and biodegradable agricultural plastics used there. Further to that, we are researching the different collection and waste management practices as well as examining the possible environmental impacts associated with the use of biodegradable agri-plastics. Comprehensive stakeholder engagement is fundamental to our efforts in order to disseminate information and deepen our understanding of the potential barriers to collection and recycling of conventional agri-plastics and of the possible issues related to biodegradable agri-plastics.

We adapted the agenda for the webinar but still managed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the project and deliver the findings from our initial research via three presentations. These were followed by interactive Q&A sessions, where stakeholders raised questions via the chat function. The participants were fully engaged in the Q&A and lots of insightful and challenging questions were raised.