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Costing the Earth podcast

BBC Radio 4,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Plastic solves more problems than it creates, but better programs to reuse and recycle can keep it out of the oceans.

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Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


In this episode of BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth podcast, host Tom Heap interviews the “heretics” of plastic. An organic farmer, a lifecycle analyst, a plastic manufacturer, a waste management expert, and others who work with plastic on a daily basis argue that banning the material causes environmental problems elsewhere. Those concerned about the environment will appreciate the nuances of the debate and the practical solutions.


Plastic has a bad reputation, but can society get rid of it entirely? Plastic isn’t inherently evil, says organic farmer Guy Singh-Watson. Paper and other materials are worse for the environment and, thanks to plastic, his vegetables stay fresh, which reduces food waste. Singh-Watson worries that the plastic debate distracts from the greater environmental emergency – climate change.

Lifecycle analyst Richard Mattison agrees that alternative materials can cause other problems. Without plastic, transporting food would be heavier and require more fuel, thus adding more carbon to the atmosphere...

About the Podcast

Costing the Earth is a podcast series produced by BBC Radio 4 that explores the technologies and methods that create a more sustainable world.

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    A. A. 1 year ago
    Awesome story on plastic. The real opener whether the plastic in itself is bad or the huge amount of waste going into the sea is bad. One need to carefully examine what kind of plastic is being used.