Plastic waste is becoming the biggest concern globally. More than 99 percent of plastic is made from chemicals derived from fossil fuels, and the two industries are inextricably linked. According to the Center for International Environmental Law, the United States’ natural gas boom is fueling an increase in plastic production, which raises pollution risks of plastic waste in frontline communities and directly contradicts cities’ efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
If that isn’t depressing enough, a new report claims that greenhouse gas emissions from the plastics industry will surpass coal by the end of this decade. It’s time to think about how we can reduce our reliance on plastic and the emissions that come with it. It’s not all about giving up things, though consuming less is beneficial for reducing our carbon footprint. In this newsletter, we highlight three emerging solutions that are helping us move toward a less plasticky future.
1. Creating a refill culture
Packaging can account for up to 40% of the cost, creating a poverty tax for those who cannot afford to invest in more efficient bulk options.
Algramo – a Chile-based startup was founded to address a problem of plastic waste that affects millions of low-income families: the poverty tax. This market failure occurs when low-income families purchase products in small quantities and pay up to 40% more for them. Algramo eliminates the poverty tax by utilizing a reusable packaging distribution system that allows families to purchase the exact quantity of products they require at bulk prices.
Unilever is offering its Omo and Quix detergents in standard retail packaging with an RFID tag and an Algram-Unilever co-branding label for the pilot:
This is how it works: The Algramo containers resemble standard bottles of Softsoap, Pine-sol, or whatever and contain the same information, such as the ingredient list. They do, however, include RFID-enabled chips that connect to an app. You can load money into your account via the app, which is then transmitted to the chip, effectively turning the container into a wallet. As Moller – founder Algramo company points out, you may occasionally forget to bring your reusable shopping bags to the store, but you never forget your wallet.
2. Recycling and upcycling
In order to reduce plastic waste, recyling and upcycling are one of the best methods. Recycling is an industrial process in which waste materials are transformed into new materials and then used to create either the same product (such as a beverage can) or a different product (such as something made from plastic)
Upcycling is a type of recycling in which, instead of converting waste into new materials, you can repurpose a product that would otherwise be discarded. Rather than recycling in a bin, you can use your imagination to update and renew old items. Upcycling has nothing to do with the industrial recycling process. Upcycling, on the other hand, improves waste objects in some way to make them useful again.
For example: Old and out-of-date furniture is a popular upcycled item. A cabinet or chest of drawers can be quickly and successfully transformed by sanding, painting, and adding new handles. Similarly, a lamp can be improved by adding a new lampshade — possibly from another lamp.
Plastic shoes are upcycling into planters to grow flower as below picture:
3. Replacing plastic at the source
One of the most effective ways to keep plastic out of our water and emissions out of our lungs is to reduce how much of it we make and consume in the first place. That may not be possible in every case, but a lot of businesses are springing up to provide alternatives to common plastic products.
Some alternative materials you can think about to reduce plastic waste such as:
- Stainless steel: options for reusable food and beverage storage have multiplied in recent years due to their durability and ease of cleaning. This sturdy metal can be used to replace single-use cups, kitchen storage, lunch boxes, and other items.
- Glass: while not biodegradable, is inert, cheap, and infinitely recyclable. And, because many food items are packaged in glass, upcycling glass jars into food storage is a free way to breathe new life into your food packaging. Jars of jam, honey, pickles, nut butters, and so much more can be added to your zero-waste toolkit for bulk bin shopping. They can also be used to store leftovers and homemade drinks, or they can be decorated and turned into homemade gifts
- Cloth with beeswax coating: Beeswax-coated fabric is primarily used as a replacement for plastic wrap and plastic bags. It is simple to use and clean. It also has a pleasant aroma.
- Fabric made from natural fibers: When washed, organic cotton, wool, hemp, or bamboo clothing will not shed plastic fibers. Felted or recycled wool is a versatile, safe, and compostable material that can be used to make children’s toys, household containers, and other items.
- Wood: Wood from sustainably managed forests, a renewable resource, can be used to replace plastic in household items such as cleaning brushes, kitchen utensils, and cutting boards.
- Bamboo: This rapidly growing renewable resource can be used to replace plastic in items such as tableware and drinking straws. It is lightweight, long-lasting, and compostable.
- Other Ceramics and Pottery: Pottery and other fired ceramics, which have been around for millennia, provide a stable, waterproof alternative that is suitable for food storage and tableware. Seek out non-toxic glazes.
- Paper: Many things used to be wrapped in plain paper back in the day. Paper, while better than plastic, cannot be recycled indefinitely because the fibres shorten with each reuse, limiting its use. Fortunately, all paper, with the exception of glossy paper, is safe to compost at home.
- Cardboard: As long as it is not coated in, you guessed it, plastic, cardboard is fully compostable at home. To reduce waste, many businesses are now packaging their products in plain cardboard. Cardboard boxes can also be used to replace storage containers in your home.
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