According to Plastic Oceans International (POI), we produce over 300 million tons of plastic each year around the world, half of which are attributed to single-use products. That production remains unchecked, meaning that the planet and its ecosystems will be overrun by plastic. Fortunately, awareness of this issue is growing thanks to activists, both young and old. Governmental action on the local, state, and national level is also forcing many companies to re-examine their manufacturing processes, their supply chains, and distribution networks in regards to their products and packaging.
One leader is Ikea, recently committing to transitioning much of its plastic packaging to a mushroom-based renewable alternative. This “MycoComposite” can be grown in a controlled environment, and, like plastic, be easily formed into shapes. If kept dry, this can be used over and over. It can also decompose fully in just 30 days. Producing the material requires only 12 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of plastic, and with 90 percent lower carbon emissions. Ikea is also stopping the use of plastic bags. Starting in 2020, the company’s 363 outlets worldwide will be removing all single-use plastic items, like plates, drink stirrers, cups, tableware and straws to freezer bags, garbage bags, and packaging.
Another step in the right direction is Mattel’s recent commitment to use 100 percent recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials in both its products and packaging as early as 2030. Early in 2020 the company will debut its first product aligned and developed with this new goal in mind, the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack, made from sugarcane-based plastics and packaged in 100 percent recycled or sustainable sourced material.
Walmart announced in February that it seeks to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for its private brand packaging by 2025 and will encourage other brands that it sells to set similar goals. The retailing behemoth is also working with suppliers to eliminate non-recyclable PVC plastic in general merchandise packaging altogether by 2020.
The UK based supermarket chain has committed to cutting a further 1,284 tons of plastic from their supply chain over the course of the next year, including plastic cutlery, bags, lids, and trays. They will start by removing 489 tons worth of plastic bags, which are currently used for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items. Customers buying loose fruit and vegetables will either be able to bring their own bags or buy a re-usable bag made from recycled materials. Paper bags will be made available to customers for loose bakery items.
USA’s largest supermarket chain, announced that it will be phasing out all of its single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable alternatives. When fully implemented, the waste generated by bags in their 2,800 stores, will drop by 123 million pounds per year.
Heineken, Corona, Carlsberg, and Guinness have all announced in 2019 that they are eliminating plastic from their packaging, replacing them by next year with biodegradable 6-pack rings, or glue. The turtles of the world will surely be grateful for this!
If sustainable and responsible businesses are important to you, make
sure to thoroughly explore the product you use, companies that make
them and the ins and outs of their ownership. Sometimes you will be
delighted, but don’t get surprised if you end up disappointed.
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