Plastic is one of the most fundamental materials to industry and everyday life, but is also one of the biggest examples of our throw-away society: the majority of plastic produced annually is only used once. Over 300 million tons of new plastic is produced each year, with over half ending up in landfills, in oceans or on beaches as a result of improper disposal and lack of consumer recycling.
In the packaging industry there’s an increasing emphasis on the importance of sustainable packaging, with more and more companies making use of resources such as waste plastic to produce sustainable products made from raw, reused materials, creating what the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the UK calls a circular economy. A circular economy encourages products that are recyclable, recycled and reused to combat the take-make-dispose economy that sees new materials thrown away after single use.
The New Plastics Economy
To combat waste plastic and its negative environmental impact, an initiative by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation called the New Plastics Economy focuses on using the principles of the circular economy to encourage companies to design and produce plastic packaging that can be recycled and used over and over again, creating a sustainable supply chain that feeds back into itself.
Sustainable Steps from Procter & Gamble
Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G), with a goal to incorporate more post-consumer recycled content into their products, is taking influence from the New Plastics Economy by turning the problem into the solution. It recently announced a collaboration with innovative recycling company TerraCycle and Suez, Europe’s largest waste management leader, to source, design and manufacture the world’s first fully recyclable shampoo bottle for leading shampoo brand Head & Sho ulders. Made from 25% beach plastic collected from beaches around the world, this is a breakthrough for the industry and for sustainable plastic packaging. So important is the circular economy to P&G, it’s estimating that by the end of 2018, half a billion bottles produced by P&G every year will be made of of 25% post-consumer recycled content. This is a remarkable step towards a circular economy in the plastic packaging industry.
Quality Discount Packaging
As many companies move towards more sustainable solutions to waste packaging, our company has launched the Quality Discount Packaging (QDP) programme to promote the re-use of packaging materials, which would otherwise be treated as waste. QDP gives companies a profitable alternative (helping you to find potential buyers) to the unnecessary waste of the planet’s resources. It helps to prevent the disposal of unused, high quality packaging components and encourages the repurposing of this packaging. Sellers with surplus packaging can earn profit for any unnecessary items and buyers can get high quality products below the original market price, meaning surplus packaging doesn’t have to end up on beaches, in oceans and in landfills.
Changing the way we think about waste plastic is paramount to developing a circular economy, and reducing the take-make-dispose attitude, and Procter & Gamble’s latest innovation highlights the efforts and progress in sustainability being made by top companies. It’s our responsibility in the packaging industry to make plastic packaging more sustainable by making plastic more easily recyclable, as well as using recycled plastic to make new products.