Blue Planet II, the BBC’s David Attenborough-narrated natural world documentary that explores life in the 70 percent or so of the Earth’s surface covered by water proved a massive catalyst in the fightback against plastic. In the UK alone, over 14 million households watched the first episode in the first week of it being aired. The same episode reportedly managed to slow down China’s internet speed as 80 million people rushed to download it.
The nature series is undoubtedly a masterpiece of cinematography, narrative and science. It’s certainly a commercial success for the BBC, having been sold around the world. More importantly, it may well also go down as a turning point in global awareness of the environmental impact of our addiction to plastic and motivation to proactively move to alternatives.
Blue Planet II was certainly not the beginning of the process of awareness we have a plastic problem. But it did turn a trickle into a torrent strong enough to now be forcing change. Consumers and governments around the world are taking action with their wallets and legislation. One beneficiary of that has been London-listed international packaging business DS Smith. Between Blue Planet II first airing last October and now, DS Smith’s share price has gained around 4.5%. It’s up over 40% in three years and has been catapulted into the FTSE 100.
DS Smith has been going through a period of significant expansion in the US and Europe. It’s pitch to clients, some of them, such as Amazon, Nestle, P&G and Mars, among the biggest users of packaging in the world, is that they can facilitate the transition from plastic. DS Smith offers a range of cardboard-based alternatives to packaging solutions dominated by plastic in recent years. Cardboard containers with a thin film of internal plastic to hold liquids such as washing detergent, to display boxes to present products on supermarket shelves. The growing online groceries shopping and delivery industry is the next target. Many deliveries still use plastic bags. DS Smith is working on the alternative of boxes that can be flat-packed down and then returned.
Brits investing online into ISA and SIPPs are increasingly making the effort to balance returns with ethics. There are also now funds offered by online stock brokers that market themselves as ‘ethical’ and only buy shares in companies that meet stated ethical guidelines in their products and services. Companies such as DS Smith mean that it will hopefully become increasingly possible to invest successfully and promote companies that are making a positive contribution to starting the clean-up operation the planet is in need of.