Waitrose to Stop Selling Packs of Plastic Straws by September 2018 and Reduce Black Plastic Trays

© WaitroseThe supermarket Waitrose will remove black plastic trays from meat, fish and fruit and veg ranges by end of year.

The retailer has today announced that it will stop selling packs of disposable straws from September 2018. This builds on its track-record for being the first supermarket to stop selling items containing microbeads from September 2016 and switching exclusively to paper-stem cotton buds. Plastic straws will be replaced by non-plastic alternatives.

Iceland supermarket chain aims to be plastic free by 2023

Supermarket chain Iceland has said it will eliminate or drastically reduce plastic packaging of all its own-label products by the end of 2023.

Iceland says the move will affect more than a thousand own-label products.

New ranges will be packaged using a paper-based tray, rather than plastic.

It follows recent outcries over the packaging of cauliflower “steaks” and coconuts, and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme, which showed vivid images of plastic pollution.

Read more at BBC.co.uk

How flowering plants conquered the world

Scientists think they have the answer to a puzzle that baffled even Charles Darwin: How flowers evolved and spread to become the dominant plants on Earth.

Flowering plants, or angiosperms, make up about 90% of all living plant species, including most food crops.

In the distant past, they outpaced plants such as conifers and ferns, which predate them, but how they did this has has been a mystery.

New research suggests it is down to genome size – and small is better.

Read more at BBC.co.uk

Scientists react as Government launches Environment plan

The Government has today launched its 25 Year Environment Plan, pledging to improve the natural environment by 2042.

Many headlines have been made by the pledge to eradicate avoidable plastic waste, but the plan also considers sustainable land management, nature enhancement and reducing pollution, among other things.

Leading environmental scientists at the University of Reading have reacted to the government’s plan.

Less chewing the cud, more greening the fuel

Making grasses more digestible promises improved feed for ruminants and better biomass for biofuel production, with economic and environmental benefits for both.

Plant biomass contains considerable calorific value but most of it makes up robust cell walls, an unappetising evolutionary advantage that helped grasses to survive foragers and prosper for more than 60 million years.

The trouble is that this robustness still makes them less digestible in the rumen of cows and sheep and difficult to process in bioenergy refineries for ethanol fuel.

Back to the future

Modern farming owes much to long-standing research that continues to pump out results and to provide valuable perspectives to guide the future of agricultural science, achievements that will be celebrated at a three-day international conference in May.

The Future of Long-Term Experiments in Agricultural Science, from 21–23 May, is being organised by the Association of Applied Biologists at Rothamsted Conference Centre to mark the 175th anniversary of the start of scientific investigations at Rothamsted.