Libraries in the London Borough of Greenwich are the first in the country to move to fully biodegradable library cards that are made in the UK from ethically sourced materials.
The borough’s 13 public libraries begun issuing the new eco-cards this week and, with more than 121,000 library cards currently in circulation within Greenwich alone, it is hoped the change will reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.
GLL, the charitable social enterprise that operates Greenwich’s libraries on behalf of the council, partnered with manufacturing specialist Spectrum Plastics & Products to develop the new card, which is full colour, includes a barcode and is made from ethically sourced cardboard.
Other environmental schemes undertaken by libraries in the borough include the recent refurbishment of Eltham Library, which included installing energy efficient lighting, using water-based paints and upcycling furniture where possible.
Paul Drumm, GLL’s partnership manager for libraries in Greenwich said: “While changing how we source and manufacture library cards might seem like a small step, the cumulative impact is significant. With over 121,000 cards issued in the borough, equating in size to eight football pitches, this simple move will have a real impact.
“Traditional lending libraries are the ultimate example of positive recycling, as books are reused multiple times. We are now exploring how, by embracing modern technologies, we can do much more to help the environment.”
Kath Doran, m.d of Spectrum, said: “With changing times we are keen to move with the demands and needs of our customers and the environment to help those like GLL, who wish to have a 'natural' biodegradable card, to achieve this. According to the EU a naturally biodegradable card should biodegrade in six months. Some of the materials that do this include plant products, leaves, food waste, wood and paper and seamlessly re-enter the earth.
"This is in direct contrast to the degradable plastic library cards that have started to be offered as an environmental choice. These claim that they breakdown in between nine months to five years, but what is not advised is they then continuously breakdown into microscopic pieces that still effect the environment. We are continuously working with our suppliers to find improved materials that are 'naturally' biodegradable but will last longer while in use.”