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Museum membership packs go plastic-free

In the latest push to improve the sustainability of the Museum, all membership packs and magazines will now be mailed in 100% biodegradable or recyclable packaging.

Earlier this year, the Museum stopped selling single-use plastic water bottles at both South Kensington and Tring, and introducing zero-plastic, canned spring water in a bid to build a more sustainable future.

The plastic problem

The mounting evidence for the impact that single-use plastic is having on the world's oceans and waterways is changing the way people think about disposable plastic.

Studies carried out by Museum scientists in collaboration with Royal Holloway in 2014 looked at the amount of plastic litter found within the Thames, discovering that the majority of rubbish collected from the river were some type of plastic.

As plastic degrades and breaks apart in water, the small pieces are ingested by fish and molluscs such as oysters and mussels. Entering the food chain, these creatures are then eaten by larger animals such as birds, dolphins and even humans. The effect this might have on our own health is still unknown.

With billions of tonnes of plastic being dumped into the oceans every year, there is a growing effort to stem this pollution.

Museum initiatives

From July 2018 the quarterly Members' magazines published by the Museum, evolve and WILD WORLD, will be mailed in plastic-free wrapping. Rather than being made from oil, the packaging will use natural potato starch along with other biological polymers.

This makes the plastic packaging not only renewable but totally biodegradable and compostable. It can be disposed of in the green recycling bin with other garden waste, or even in a home compost bin. Members are also encouraged to put the wrapping in their food waste caddy.

The Museum has redesigned the membership packs making sure that all components, including the folder, guess passes and paper are completely recyclable. The envelopes are both 100% recyclable and made from 100% recycled material.

In addition, rather than being made from traditional plastic PVC, the membership cards will be created from a chalk-based material coated in biodegradable PVC. This means the cards can later either be recycled with other household plastics, or even composted under the right conditions.

Christina Heap, Head of Membership, says 'We are delighted to launch our new, fully recyclable and completely plastic free, Members pack. Our Members are at the very heart of the Museum’s community, and we are pleased that they can now join us on our journey to a more sustainable future.'

The Museum is cutting down on single-use plastics by encouraging visitors bring their own reusable water bottles, providing an improved access to water fountains, increasing the signposting for the fountains and selling reusable water bottles.

This has been coupled with the push to stop selling water in single-use bottles, with the Museum opting to only sell water in recyclable cans.