News in plastic: Good … and some bad

There is some good news … and some bad. Which shows that we all have to appreciate the wins and keep pushing on with our own actions to reduce plastic consumption.

Some big brands, like Coca Cola and Google, are taking action to reduce their plastic consumption.

Coca Cola cutting virgin plastic

By 2021, Coca Cola Australia has pledged to reduce its use of virgin plastic by 40,000 tonnes (compared with 2017) by using frozen drink cups and lids made from recycled plastic. Currently, these cups and lids are made of polystyrene, which is generally not reused or recycled. They will also move all plastic bottles of less than one litre to 100% recycled plastic and remove all plastic drinking straws and stirrers.

This is great …

We love to see more of a market for recycled plastics, because without demand there is no incentive to recycle in the first place. Coca Cola still has a responsibility to ensure their products are disposed of responsibly – something they already know. They aim to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one they sell by 2030, and ensure none of their containers end up in landfill or oceans.

Plastic to graphene

Rice University, in Texas, is creating pristine graphene – a variant of graphite, used for research and development in semiconductor, electronics, electric batteries, and composites – out of waste plastic that would otherwise end up in the environment. They also produce large amounts of hydrogen, a clean fuel – and given the fact that only 9% of the plastic produced is recycled, conversion to graphene could be a solution.

Plastic in the Mediterranean

Now for some bad news. The amount of plastic dumped into the Mediterranean each year – currently 229,000 tonnes, equivalent to more than 500 shipping containers – could more than double by 2040. A report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature blamed mismanaged waste for 94% of the total plastic leakage into the sea, which has caused over 1 million tonnes to accumulate already. Improving waste management in the top 100 contributing cities alone, and banning plastic bags in the region, could reduce this by at least 100,000 tonnes.

First product from The Ocean Cleanup plastic

Back to good news … The first product has been made from plastic collected by The Ocean Cleanup. The Dutch organisation has teamed up with designer Yves Behar and Italian eyewear brand Safilo to create a pair of sunglasses made with plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The sunglasses are designed to be useful and durable, softer than standard plastic for a nice feel on the face, and are able to be recycled or repaired and reused at the end of their life.

Google commits to plastic-free packaging

Google has announced a goal to make its product packaging entirely plastic-free and recyclable by 2025 in an effort to fight climate change. Google already has 100% carbon neutral shipping of their hardware. They reached their goal early of including recycled materials in all consumer hardware by 2022, and are setting their sights on a more ambitious goal.

 

Read about 5 misconceptions around the impact of plastic, and Australia’s federal food waste targets, on our blog.

Article by Tallis Baker.

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