Written by Josseline Cusme, Business & Strategy Analyst
Reading time: 5 minutes
Plastic and packaging in particular make up a flash point for consumer sustainability concerns related to climate change. Surprisingly, much theoretically recyclable packaging is not really recycled. This means that most of it goes directly straight to landfill. In addition, a proportion of plastic packaging is not realistically recyclable through the current end-of-life infrastructure.
It is essential to start to recognize that ditching plastics in the foreseeable future is infeasible. This point is illustrated by their affordable price, versatility, and their rest of properties related with protection and availability readiness: they keep food fresh, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, keep healthcare products safe and save energy in the logistics chain. In fact, plastic provide considerable convenience and substantial consumer value.
There is a clearly long road ahead circularity achievement, regarded as a key role for sustainability success. In fact, the circular economy conceptualizes an incremental process of rdefini9ng the relationship between economic activity and growth, on one side, the consumption and disposal of finite sources, on the other
In addition, growing consumer interest will continue to drive stakeholder attention to plastic packaging sustainability issues.
According to a National Geographic publication from 2017, more than 91 percent of the plastic waste produced globally is not recycled. The same publication states that in 2018 more than 8,300 million tons of plastic have been produced globally since the mass production of plastic began. Around 6.3 billion tons of this waste ends up in landfills, oceans and rivers. If this is not stopped, landfills will contain 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.
It is a universally acknowledged truth that plastic waste collection and recyclability are regarded as the key of sustainability across waste management techniques. When it comes to plastic waste management, unfortunately, plastic labelling is often unclear. This point is illustrated by how consumers expect packaging to have an active sustainability component, such as being recyclable, compostable or even made with already recycled materials or made from renewable sources. In the same way, people’s concern claims towards less plastic used as well as lower environmental impacts. In fact, consumers are often unsure of how and what to recycle, resulting in apathy and frustration.
Although sustainability is the goal, eliminating plastic packaging is quite complicated. The reasons that explain this statement are related with the material itself. This means that durability makes plastic ideal for packaging and at the same time, effectively non-biodegradable.
Plastics comprise a vast set of high performance, versatile materials., providing tangible values to consumers:
- Safety & protection
For these reasons, plastic packaging plays an indispensable role within food and healthcare industry among other sectors.
The lack of control that has led to the massive use of plastic has led many international environmental organizations to demand a legal framework in this regard. An example of this is the ban on single-use plastics or encouraging companies to promote the manufacture and use of plastics with a high percentage of recycled raw materials. Without forgetting that the brands take responsibility for their containers, packaging and packaging.
Plastic companies will need to continue making major modifications to their products by investing in Research & Development & Innovation (R&D&i) programs across technology manufacturing as well as integrating within their Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) performance all their stakeholder concerns.
In these terms, sustainability will also likely factor into future merge and acquisition (M&A) decisions and drive-up multiples for targets that have made appropriate investments.
It is also necessary to take into account when opting for this type of (sustainable) process that the economic factor, this must have a competitive price with respect to traditional single-use packaging options.
Last but not least, one significant opportunity is to encourage consumers to route problem materials into the proper streams, thus preventing improper diversion, discarding recyclable materials such as cans in the rubbish bin, textile and yard waste.
Find out how ALLCOT Group can help you with your sustainability and waste control strategies.
Written by Alfredo Gil, Climate Change Waste Manager.
Our daily life is surrounded by plastic. Due to its high versatility, low price and properties (flexibility, durability and
lightness) it is present in packaging, clothing, construction materials, all kinds of objects and even as an ingredient in cosmetics. However, plastic is also often associated with the "use and throw away culture" since much of this material is used to manufacture a wide variety of containers that have a very short useful life. The simple gesture of throwing a plastic bottle on a beach takes about 500 years until it completely decomposes on the seabed. 8 million tons of plastic waste reaches the seas and oceans annually. This amount is equivalent to the weight of 800 Eiffel Tower, it could cover 34 times the island of Manhattan or equal the weight of 14,285 Airbus A380 aircrafts.
Currently, the most effective solution, when it is not possible to avoid its use or generation at source, consists of the recovery and recycling of these plastic waste. In order to encourage and evaluate the impact of this type of initiative, VERRA, with the support of the 3R Initiative, will launch the new “Plastic Waste Reduction Standard” in early 2021. This program aims to maintain consistent accounting and accreditation of a wide variety of plastic recovery and recycling activities anywhere in the world and to promote funding for projects that increase the recovery of plastic waste from the environment and / or its recycling. The Program will allow projects to be independently audited to determine to what extent they have reduced plastic waste and / or increased recycling rates. The so-called “plastic credits” will be equivalent to one ton of recovered or recycled plastic and will be issued based on the amount of plastic that is collected and recycled above the reference rates (usual or imposed by regulations) in each region.
These methodologies provide procedures for estimating net plastic waste recycled through mechanical recycling activities. Eligible initiatives will be the installation of new recycling facilities, capacity increases or technological improvement in existing recycling facilities, recycling of types of materials (including packaging) that have not been previously recycled in an existing facility, as well as incentivizing or facilitating the increase in the collection of plastic waste. The new program also establishes procedures to estimate the net plastic waste removed or diverted from its destination or usual final disposal through formal and informal recovery activities, with the aim of preventing this plastic from remaining or ending its life cycle in the environment.
Although this program is still in development and in public consultation phase, the technical department dedicated to the waste management sector at ALLCOT is already working on the use of these new methodologies to evaluate, develop and certify the first recycling and recovery of plastic waste projects in the VERRA registry. ALLCOT offers technical support throughout the initial evaluation process of eligibility under the new program of the different initiatives, the development of the project design documentation and the necessary calculations to determine the volume of “plastic credits” that will be generated. Once the project is registered in the program, ALLCOT will participate in the development of the Monitoring Reports and the periodic verification process.
Through participation and development in these new plastic waste recycling and recovery projects, ALLCOT continues to align its activity as always with the objectives established by the 2030 Agenda. These projects, framed in the “Plastic Waste Reduction Standard” will contribute decisively to the following Sustainable Development Goals: 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 12. Responsible consumption and production, 14. Life bellow water and 15. Life on land.