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Nov 13, 2018 / Richard Hall

Word of the year – single-use

Single-use has been declared ‘Word of the Year’ for 2018 by Collins Dictionary.

It certainly wasn’t much in use before this year. Yet it’s now come into multi-use by legislators including the European Parliament and the UK Government.

Unfortunately, its meaning is subject to repeated misuse.

Single-use, by definition, means ‘made to be used a single time’. But it has also become synonymous with waste and negligence.

This has led to proposed bans on single-use packaging.

However, most packaging can be recycled and given another life, even many lives.

Single-use plastic bottles may be lighter, cheaper, safer and better for the environment by requiring less energy and producing less emissions than other materials.

Even single-use plastic straws may be more appropriate on certain occasions, such as for disabled people, who might have difficulty with metal or paper straws for hot drinks.

We live in an increasingly knee-jerk, fake news, populist politics world where balanced judgement often escapes us.

Let’s not follow that path on single-use as a form of abuse.

We should focus on the far bigger goals of better design for re-use where possible and end-use where not. Bans may well be appropriate in some cases, but they should be targeted and proportionate.

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