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On the path to a circular economy, there's no straight line | Greenbiz – GreenBiz

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This article is sponsored by WestRock.

The path toward a circular economy is more of an angled one than a straight line and more nuanced than the “all or nothing” language that is often employed in sustainability conversations. 

When I joined WestRock as the company’s new chief sustainability officer in December 2020, I came with the philosophy of working toward a more circular future, one step at a time, leveraging pivotal collaborations, and celebrating incremental successes. As a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, we at WestRock are in an important position, not only to embody sustainable change, but innovate for it in a way that encourages our customers to adapt to a more sustainable packaging model. Here’s how we’re leading the way down the winding path to circularity. 

Defining the Circular Economy

Every step of the way on the path to circularity we are thinking about how we can generate less waste and more opportunities to extend the usefulness of materials. The relationship packaging companies and landowners have with forests truly is symbiotic. We all want to keep forests healthy, so we can continue making the best use of this remarkable and renewable resource. So, at WestRock, we start with the trees. How can the company ensure forests are growing sustainably? How can the company ensure that the 10,000 private landowners WestRock engages with annually, and their stakeholders, are adequately educated on the importance of sustainable land management? Virgin fiber is an important part of the circular economy, and responsible oversight of this sustainable forest resource is critically important to WestRock.

WestRock’s Innovative Fiber-Based Solutions for Various Companies

The very nature of WestRock’s business model is circular — from producing fiber-based packaging to recycling the fibers from packages consumers use in the production of new packages. 

The key to effectively working toward a more circular economy is so much about knowing the right people to partner with and having the patience to see that incremental progress can have a long-lasting sustainability impact.   

As an Ellen MacArthur Foundation member, WestRock is connected with some of the greatest minds collaborating to work toward a more circular economy. With partners including the American Forest Foundation and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, we are thinking about the circular economy at large, and at every stage of a product’s lifecycle — that means the company is resourcing, designing, reusing and recycling with circular economy principles at the center of its strategy.

With its automated packaging solutions, fiber-based alternatives to plastics and a portfolio of fiber-based packaging that is rightsized — and, in many cases, reusable, recyclable or compostable — WestRock is providing brands in the CPG space, and more, with insights on how they can incorporate fiber-based solutions into their products. WestRock’s customers are coming to us for a vision and plan to develop tailored sustainability solutions that support their sustainability goals. I remember growing up as a child, cutting the plastic six-pack rings before we threw them away for fear of the impact they would have on wildlife, so it gives me great joy to see WestRock innovate a fiber-based alternative, CanCollar, that gives soda’s plastic six-pack ring a more sustainable makeover.

We have to be good listeners. What is the market telling us? We’re listening to consumers, customers and beyond, including the investment community too. Right now, investors are telling us sustainability is a priority. On that note, I’m really excited that in 2020, WestRock was named to the DJSI World and DJSI North America Indices. 

Consumers and Sustainability: Navigating Competing Priorities Amid the Pandemic 

Consumers are actively looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment moving forward.

I was intrigued and encouraged by the results of a WestRock Pulse Packaging survey to gauge consumer attitudes where we found 82 percent agreed it is important for brands to balance safety and concern for the environment when designing product packaging; there were notable increases in the demand for packaging that is easily reused, easily identifiable as environmentally friendly, and easily recycled. While the great debate at the grocery checkout has been “paper or plastic,” that conversation is heading into the aisles where consumers are holding products to a higher sustainability standard. 

WestRock is proactively coming up with solutions that help usher brands further and further away from the tradition of single-use plastics — challenging traditional notions of what should be plastic and innovating for fiber-based alternatives that perform as well, if not better, with less impact on the planet. 

I mentioned the Coca-Cola CanCollar earlier. That’s just one example of WestRock’s fiber-based plastic replacement innovations. Solving for tear resistance and theft deterrence, WestRock produced a fiber-based package for First Alert that replaced a fully enclosed PET blister clamshell with a NatraLock®  blister card, a sturdy, flexible, more sustainable alternative to traditional blister seal and clamshell applications. In the health and beauty sector, EcoPush® is an all-paperboard package that directly houses oil-based solids such as balm, solid perfume, deodorant and other oil-based solids. Not only is the exterior fiber-based, but by lining the interior with an oil-resistant paper barrier, WestRock was able to extend the fiber-based benefits throughout the packaging. Also in the health and beauty sector, the WestRock Paper Palette replaces all plastic elements used in ordinary makeup palettes with fiber. 

Innovating for fiber-based solutions that operate like plastic is just one element of working toward a more circular economy. Companies need to get active and get clear with consumer when talking about recycled content. There are so many myths and misconceptions. 

Here’s the thing, 100 percent recycled content is not a sustainable option at scale. Fibers can only be recycled five to seven times before they simply drop out of the papermaking process. We need to incorporate virgin fibers to increase the longevity of fiber cycles in packaging. Our minds love the tidiness of 100 percent, and our hearts connect with the passion of an all or nothing promise. But the truth is, virgin fibers play a pivotal role in promoting greater sustainability and performance, which is why WestRock prioritizes sustainable forestry as an invaluable aspect of recycled content. 

How WestRock Innovates for Its Own Clients

WestRock is seeing increased interest in tamper-evident packaging and anti-microbials. Our innovation team recently developed its BioPak Protect™, a fiber-based food container that features a tamper-evident pull tab seal similar to those used on mailer packages. We’re also seeing a lot of traction around increasing the recyclability of foodservice packaging. WestRock’s EnShield® Natural Kraft paper for foodservice packaging resists grease and oil stains by providing the same protection as poly-coating without the plastic. And with the food bowl industry booming, WestRock has introduced a new automation technology for the fast-growing food bowl segment, CP eMerge™ Combo  (a fiber-based alternative to plastic food bowls).

Of course, everyone is always looking for the rightsized packaging. WestRock’s BoxSizer®  intelligent right-sizing technology is the only machine on the market that can right size multiple preloaded box footprints arriving at random to the infeed without the need for changeovers. It does this with folding, not cutting, so no material is wasted. I am really excited about the work our team will continue to do, scaling right-size packaging options for our customers without compromising the product’s value. 

The Role of Education – Both Consumer and Sustainability, at large – in the Circular Economy

WestRock has 18 recycling plants across the U.S. that recycle 8 million tons of materials per year — which eclipses its 5.5 million tons of recycled fiber consumption. The company recycles more fiber than it uses. 

Through a partnership with The Recycling Partnership, WestRock is working to increase awareness of recyclability and educate consumers. In 2019, to help dispel the myth that corrugated pizza boxes are not recyclable, WestRock commissioned a study of the availability of recycling programs in the U.S. for corrugated pizza boxes. In 2020, WestRock delved into this further, conducting a grease and cheese study that concluded normal amounts of grease and residual cheese do not negatively affect the manufacturing of new products from this recycled fiber. This study was reviewed and endorsed by industry partners that validated the findings, confirming corrugated pizza boxes could actually be recycled at least seven times. This work will be expanded in 2021 to deliver Sustainable Choices — a pizza box recycling educational program — to pizza box customers and pizza consumers across the U.S. 

This is incredibly important because Americans consume A LOT of pizza, and those boxes are made of high-quality corrugated paper, as I previously mentioned. We’re looking at more than 600,000 tons of corrugated board a year that could be recycled from pizza boxes alone. 

As the largest pizza company in the world based on retail sales, Domino’s helped share this information with the launch of Recycle My Pizza Box — a hub of information about proper pizza box recycling where visitors can input their ZIP code to find out about recycling in their municipality. 

As we move forward, many e-commerce habits are going to stick. With more recycling happening at the curb instead of at stores, investments in improving residential recycling infrastructure will be necessary. WestRock invested $2 million to upgrade its Marietta, Georgia, facility in October 2020 to improve single stream recycling efficiency. We continue to consider other areas for investment and partnership to make curbside recycling more efficient. 

I’m also looking forward to expanding efforts to engage with family forest owners about how to sustainably manage their forests. It’s astonishing to think that family forest owners comprise the largest source of wood in the U.S.—36 percent compared to just 19 percent that is corporately owned. It’s essential to equip these families with the tools, education and resources they need to understand how to protect and promote sustainable growth.

How WestRock is Addressing Its Challenges 

There’s a regulatory landscape that’s shifting with the new federal administration. WestRock’s investments in its internal capacity enable the company to meet this moment. The company’s hiring of a chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of innovation, both with growing teams, is indicative of that commitment. The sustainability team works closely with the innovation team to drive strategy, communicate customer priorities, and sustainability opportunities enabling us to general innovative sustainable packaging solutions. 

I mentioned persistence before. Working toward a circular economy requires us all to be agents of change with focus. Everything is moving so quickly — from our news cycles to our ability to click a button on our phones and have a product at our door sometimes as soon as hours later.  This is a three-, five-, 10-year journey — change doesn’t happen overnight. True, lasting, sustainable impact is incremental and endures. By listening, partnering with stakeholders and offering innovative solutions, WestRock will continue to advance the circular economy, partnering with our customers to create a more sustainable future.

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Queen Elizabeth spent a night in hospital – Palace says

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Britain’s 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth spent a night in hospital for what Buckingham Palace termed ‘preliminary investigations’ but returned to Windsor Castle on Thursday and was in good spirits.

The monarch cancelled an official trip to Northern Ireland on Wednesday with the palace saying she had been told to rest by her medical staff, and that it was not related to COVID-19.

“Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits,” the palace said in a statement.

A royal source said the queen had stayed in hospital for practical reasons and that her medical team had taken a cautious approach.

She had returned to her desk for work on Thursday afternoon and was undertaking some light duties, the source said.

Elizabeth spent Tuesday night hosting a drinks reception at Windsor Castle for billionaire business leaders such as Bill Gates after Prime Minister Boris Johnson convened a green investment conference ahead of the COP26 climate summit.

The queen, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, had appeared in good health then, smiling happily as she met the guests.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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Get the flu shot: Public Health – Quinte News

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Local public health officials says getting the flu shot this year is especially important to reduce the risk of illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since many people are vulnerable to serious risks related to the flu, officials say everyone can help reduce the spread by getting vaccinated.

In a release, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health points out that it’s safe to get the flu vaccine at the same time as, or any time before or after the COVID-19 vaccine.

They point out influenza can be a serious disease and can lead to pneumonia or organ failure.

Statement from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health:

Getting the flu vaccine is especially important this year, to reduce your risk of illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many people are vulnerable to serious risks related to the flu, everyone can help reduce the spread by getting vaccinated. Your choice to get vaccinated will also help ensure critical health care resources are available to those who need them most. It’s safe to get the flu vaccine at the same time as, or any time before or after the COVID-19 vaccine, so do not delay – protect yourself with these important vaccines today!

Influenza is not caused by the viruses that cause COVID-19 or a cold. It can be a serious disease that causes some individuals to be in bed for a week or longer. It can also lead to complications such as pneumonia or organ failure. Vaccinated individuals are less likely to have severe complications and end up in the hospital – which will help ensure health care resources are available to those who need them most.

This year, residents are encouraged to seek their flu vaccination as soon as possible through their health care provider or a pharmacy. As public health resources continue to be redeployed to the COVID-19 pandemic, HPEPH is not able to offer community flu clinics to the general public this year. However, flu vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and those you love from serious illness and complications. Getting your flu vaccine early is the best way to protect yourself from the flu, as it can take up to two weeks to build immunity. The vaccine is available to individuals over 2 years of age at local pharmacies, and everyone over 6 months of age can receive the flu vaccination from their health care provider. HPEPH is considering the feasibility of offering small flu vaccination clinics to populations who are unable to receive the vaccine through these avenues, but any such clinics are dependant on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination and local case rates, as resources continue to be required for COVID-19 case and contact management.

“You got your COVID-19 vaccine – now it’s time to protect yourself, and those you love, from the flu,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Acting Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH. “The COVID-19 vaccine has shown us how important and effective vaccines can be at reducing the severity of illness. While the COVID-19 vaccine reduces your risk of complications from COVID-19, it won’t protect you from the flu.”

To reduce the spread of illness in the community, all residents should continue public health precautions. The same measures that are helping control the spread of COVID-19 will help reduce the spread of seasonal influenza. If you have symptoms of the flu, stay home and follow testing guidance for COVID-19. Even if you are vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19, you can still get a mild case of these illnesses and spread them to others. The same public health precautions that prevent the spread of COVID-19, will prevent the spread of the flu.

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Get tested for COVID-19 (if advised by screening)
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often
  • Get vaccinated.

For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/flu-facts

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Art

Art Beat: It's Art Crawl weekend – Coast Reporter

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The 2021 Sunshine Coast Art Crawl kicks off Friday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m., with 164 venues open to visitors until 5 p.m. all three days, through Sunday. And at 10 of those venues (as of press time), Friday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. will also be a time for celebration. Most of the partying is at Gibsons venues, but Redecor + Design (venue #111) on Cowrie Street in Sechelt will also be open, as are Halfmoon Bay venues The Mink Farm Gallery (#146), and Kito Tosetti (#147). Details are at the “Friday Night Parties” link at sunshinecoastartcrawl.com.

Art of Healing

The Sechelt Hospital Foundation’s Art of Healing campaign holds its Gala on Saturday, Oct. 23 at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden (venue #126). That’s where 36 works donated by some great local artists are on display and will be distributed in an exclusive online raffle draw to 36 ticketholders. All visitors to the exhibit can also bid on auction packages, and purchase raffle tickets for the grand travel prizes, among them a grand prize of a trip for two to Venice or any other European destination.

Sechelt Arts Festival

It’s also the final weekend of the Sechelt Arts Festival, with the premiere of the play, Voices, at Raven’s Cry Theatre. There will be three performances, Friday night, Oct. 22, Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee. The visual art and heritage canoe displays at Seaside Centre become Art Crawl venue #115. Poet Valerie Mason-John speaks in a free event (registration required) at Raven’s Cry on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. And your last chance to add your touch to the Paintillio mural at Trail Bay Centre will also be on Saturday, until 4 p.m. Info and tickets at the festival website.

New writers’ group

The Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society is holding its first meeting on Friday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., via Zoom. The society’s purpose is “to serve writers, editors and groups on the Sunshine Coast to grow and develop their skills, as well as support other writers’ groups and events in the province and across Canada,” and “to hold events and launch projects to highlight the incredible talent that exists on the Coast.” Contact Cathalynn Cindy Labonte-Smith at 604-724-3534 for a Zoom link.

Meet the author

Writer Jennie Tschoban will be signing copies of her funny and touching memoir, Tales & Lies My Baba Told Me, on Saturday, Oct. 23, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Daffadowndilly Boutique & Gallery, on Marine Drive in Gibsons.

Meet the artists

On Sunday, Oct. 24 starting at 2 p.m., Jennifer Bryant and Jennifer Ireland will talk about their new exhibit, Matters of Scale, on now at the Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Doris Crowston Gallery in Sechelt.

Live Music

The band Astral Motion bring their blend of originals and classics to Roberts Creek Legion on Friday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 23 at the Creek Legion, Vancouver acoustic band Farmteam start their sets at 7:30 p.m.

The Locals play the Turf Stage at Tapworks in Gibsons on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Oct. 27, Vancouver singer-songwriter Eamon McGrath plays Tapworks at 8 p.m.

At the Gibsons Legion on Saturday, Oct. 23, Poppa Greg and the band kick things off at 7:30 p.m.

At the Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour, catch Half Cut and the Slackers on Sunday, Oct. 24, from 2 to 5 p.m.

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