The Big Plastic Problem
Plastic is hard to avoid as part of our everyday life, but the impact of plastic waste on the planet is becoming an increasing concern. Microplastic pollution contaminates our entire planet, from the deepest oceans to the summit of Mount Everest. As a result, we are consuming tiny plastic particles in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Microparticles of PET plastic, commonly used in drinks bottles and polystyrene, used for food packaging were identified in the bloodstream of 80% of adults during a recent scientific test.
Between 1950 and 2017 the world produced 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic, of which 7 billion tonnes have become plastic waste. The message from the United Nations is stark – plastic pollution is out of control, it is a major threat ecologically to our climate and to human health.
So how can we affect a positive change?
The first thing we need to do is to reduce the amount of plastic we use and stop it from entering the oceans. If a bathtub is overflowing, the first thing you do is not mop up the water but turn the tap off.
What Can Businesses Do to Reduce Plastic Pollution?
In the UK alone, over 5 million tonnes of plastic is consumed each year but sadly only 1 quarter of it is recycled. The 75% that isn’t recycled enters our environment, potentially polluting our waterways and oceans causing damage to our ecosystem. In less developed countries, the majority of plastic waste eventually ends up in the ocean, meaning that marine animals are especially at risk. In just one year 400 million metric tonnes of plastic is consumed globally. That’s an average of 53 kg for every person on the earth. We need to act now to reduce our plastics, and avoid plastics that cannot be recycled. The simplest way to do this is to avoid generating unnecessary, single-use and problematic plastics and design your products and packaging for sustainability.
As good practice you should aim for the following:
- A complete transition away from unnecessary single-use plastics used in your business
- Ask your suppliers to use sustainable alternatives
- Shift to easily recyclable plastics such as PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP.
- Become a plastic neutral business
What Is Plastic Neutral?
Much like becoming carbon neutral, many responsible businesses are taking action to become plastic neutral. Being plastic neutral means that for every kilogram of plastic your company uses, a measured equivalent of plastic waste is recovered and removed from the environment by an individual or company through recycling/waste management efforts or plastic offset credits. The process of becoming plastic neutral is quite simple and relatively low cost. At Positive Planet we are committed to helping companies measure, reduce and mitigate the plastic they use. As part of our standard carbon footprint process, we will give companies the opportunity to measure their plastic footprint and implement a plan to reduce its usage and waste.
Get Certified As Plastic Neutral
At Positive Planet we are committed to helping companies measure, reduce and mitigate the plastic they use. We support companies to measure their plastic footprint and implement a plan to reduce their usage and waste. Companies wishing to demonstrate their commitment to reducing their plastic usage can choose to become Certified as a Plastic Neutral or Zero Plastic Waste organisation.
How Do We Become Plastic Neutral?
Follow our simple four-step plan to becoming a plastic neutral organisation and reducing your organisation’s impact on the environment.
Step 1: Measure
Conducting a plastics audit can help identify plastic products in your company and highlight those that are only used once. Items used in the largest quantities should be tackled first by coming up with alternatives. You should try to measure your plastic by weight used and type of plastic. It is also worth separating your audit into those plastic items which you send to waste and those your end user customers will dispose of.
Step 2: Reduce
Once you’ve measured your plastic usage you can start to make a plan on how to reduce it. The first step to consider is to transition away from unnecessary single-use plastics used in your business. Where possible ask your suppliers to use sustainable alternatives and shift to easily recyclable plastics such as PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP.
Step 3: Mitigate
Offsetting your plastic usage by paying to remove plastic pollutants from the oceans is becoming increasingly popular with both individuals and businesses alike. Similarly to carbon offsetting, where companies invest in environmental projects to balance out their carbon footprint, plastic offsetting allows companies to offset unavoidable plastic usage by investing in initiatives that tackle plastic pollution. For example, companies can pay to clean up waterways and beaches overrun with plastic waste. Similarly to achieving carbon neutrality by reducing the company’s emissions first before offsetting the rest, businesses should focus on reducing their plastic footprint first, while offsetting can be a complementary strategy to help achieve “plastic neutrality”.
Step 4: Reuse and Recycle
A circular economy model ensures that resources usage is maximised, then items are reused and recycled as many times as possible before becoming a waste product. Circularity is better for the environment than the typical linear economic models where resources are used and then thrown away.
Companies like Smol are already operating schemes that enable packaging to be returned for recycling. Like the traditional milkman model, products are delivered to consumers in containers that can be collected, cleaned, recycled and reused.
For your on site waste, ensure that you segregate your recyclable items into separate bins and educate your employees on the importance of cleaning and separating recyclable items.
Talk To Us About Becoming Plastic Neutral
If you are interested in becoming a Plastic Neutral business or measuring and reducing your company plastic waste, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org