2 groups to watch in the fight against plastic waste
78% of Americans said they feel at least moderately responsible to change daily purchase habits and practices to positively impact the environment (EcoPulse 2017).
In just the past week, two new large-scale plastic waste initiatives have been announced: Nextwave Plastics (in collaboration with IKEA and HP), and the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment (NPEGC), with over 275 corporate and government sponsors. Plastic waste – particularly marine plastic waste – and “closing the loop on plastic pollution” are topics we cover regularly here, and for good reason: not only is plastic waste a tremendous problem in the sustainability world, tackling it can be a driver for product and process development, new business models and better business overall.
The goals of the initiatives together make up a closed-loop system: eliminate the buildup of plastic waste by encouraging “100 percent recyclability, reusability or compostability in plastic packaging” (NPEGC), and encourage supply chains to reuse plastic waste as a raw material in the manufacturing of new products (Nextwave). Also crucial to both initiatives is the #LineInTheSand movement to stop plastic waste from entering and polluting our oceans.
Plastic waste management initiatives are on the rise and are expected to trend even more. Now is the time for companies to aggressively create solutions to address it. It’s not just about being left behind by the business pack – it’s about addressing consumer expectations. As the stat above reveals, consumers feel responsible to take action for the environment. But the truth is most Americans want Big Companies to solve these problems on their behalf, so that the only behavior they have to change is their buying behavior. We intend to probe on this more in our 2019 Pulse studies, but we hypothesize that the plastic drinking straw bans may “wake up” some Americans to their plastic use so they become more conscious overall. That consciousness – read guilt – may propel them to choose products not packaged in plastic if an option is available. So, innovate, solve the problem for your consumer, solve the problem for the world at large and you’ll have a winning value proposition.
Trending: Nike, Native Shoes projects helping shoe industry tread lighter – Sustainable Brands
We’ve been monitoring Nike closely since the start of the Colin Kaepernick campaign and their stand for social justice. Now Nike is taking up sustainability, too, with the “Circular Innovation Challenge”: a contest to encourage new product design based on post-factory and post-consumer recycled footwear content. (Read how the winner repurposed ground up rubber footwear into yoga mats and accessories.)
When a company comes along and makes powerful sustainability commitments with results to match, we’re happy to showcase their work. Read how Follow Your Heart, a plant-based food company and maker of the popular product Vegenaise, used energy and waste audits to identify room for sustainability improvement – and to develop creative solutions to boost recyclability of all parts of their products.
Check out our article in GreenBiz, hot off the press! Our founder and CEO, Suzanne Shelton, discusses the tidal wave of recent climate change news and how brands can cast a lifeline to protect the environment and secure brand loyalty along the way.