Published 1 year ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Each pair of Sperry's Seacycled shoes repurposes the equivalent of five recycled plastic bottles | Sperry
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Reducing plastic waste is a winning issue for consumers. With so many examples of early success and ROI, there’s no better time to join the movement by committing to reduce plastic pollution and limiting the need for virgin plastic.
From the ever-growing Great Pacific Garbage
to viral videos of extracting plastic straws from the noses of sea turtles and reports of
found in our seafood, there is an ongoing awakening among consumers and the
brands they love about the global impacts of marine plastic pollution. Even if
you live miles and miles away from the coast, ocean
This awareness has supercharged some brands to initiate significant changes in
their practices with an aim to curb the volume of plastic waste entering our
waterways and oceans. Those actions are now creating meaningful, measurable
Some of these moves are more visible than others. When Starbucks announced
it was eliminating plastic straws and Unilever partnered with TerraCycle’s
to begin reusing
for its deodorant and body spray products, it made the news. Meanwhile, other
brands are quietly shifting thousands of tonnes per month to ocean-bound or
(post-consumer recycled) sources in their quest to hit aggressive
recycled-content targets for 2025 and 2030.
While each individual effort may only scratch the surface on undoing the damage
already done and limiting additional pollution going forward, these initiatives
deserve the thanks and recognition they’re receiving. They’re making real
progress while also inspiring other brands to take their own action.
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While many brands’ sustainability efforts don’t get the same press as a
Starbucks or a Unilever, there are countless companies making their own waves
with new products and packaging that truly change the game when it comes to
reducing demand for virgin plastic resin.
For example, trash bags may not be the sexiest product for solving the ocean
plastic crisis, but Glad has created Glad to Be
Green kitchen trash bags made from 50
percent recycled ocean-bound plastic. Not only does each roll recycle the
equivalent of two 2-liter plastic bottles, they’re also made with 50 percent
less virgin plastic.
This represents a double-win for the environment, as ocean-bound plastic waste
gets removed and recycled instead of polluting the ocean — and further reduces
the need for additional virgin plastic. Those volumes add up quickly, as Glad to
Be Green bags have already averted 230 metric tons of plastic headed for the
Sperry is a consumer brand synonymous with the water, as its footwear and
trusty tread are a mainstay for seafaring civilians. Its SeaCycled
features liners and laces made from 100 percent recycled plastic and uppers made
with a blend also partially composed of recycled plastic. Each pair of these
shoes repurposes the equivalent of five recycled plastic bottles, creating a
much smaller carbon footprint with each step they take.
Even our pets have a role to play in reducing plastic pollution. WestPaw’s
Seaflex line of dog toys and accessories
gives Fidos a chance to play, drink and eat with products made from a blend of
recycled ocean plastic and WestPaw’s proprietary zero-waste Zogoflex
material. These durable dog toys and accessories are safe for pooches while
making the planet’s oceans a little safer as well.
Any brand can easily reduce their plastic waste and incorporate recycled ocean
plastic. Too often inaction turns out to just be a case of not knowing where to
start. Luckily, there are many examples to follow and solution providers ready
to help turn ideas into reality.
Companies such as Oceanworks help brand partners
explore the many opportunities available to reduce their reliance on virgin
plastic and include recycled material in their design and manufacturing
processes — from identifying which parts and products are best suited for a
switch to figuring out the best recycled materials source to securing samples
for test runs.
But making great products with ocean plastic is only the first piece of the
puzzle. Brands understandably want to leverage their materials innovations to
engage their audience and ultimately increase sales. The key is reaching them
with a simple, clear message that highlights the brand impact and commitment to
Experience has shown the most effective campaigns connect the consumer’s action
— purchasing a product made from recycled ocean or ocean-bound plastic — with
its measurable environmental benefits, such as reducing a certain
amount of plastic waste from reaching the ocean. Consumers see the concrete
positive impact of their potential purchase, making them more likely to take
that action and share it with others.
It is still early days in the circular economy. There is much more work to be
done and countless opportunities for brands to make a meaningful impact and
differentiate themselves through these efforts. Reducing plastic waste is a
winning issue for consumers; brands should continually challenge themselves to
both identify opportunities and make the most of their efforts by incorporating
this push toward sustainability in their marketing and messaging.
Beyond the visible campaigns, many leading brands have made reducing their
reliance on virgin plastic part of their near-term sustainability strategies.
Coca-Cola aims to recycle one bottle for each one it produces by 2030, while
Evian aims to use 100 percent recycled plastic for its water bottles by
2025. Multiple airlines are moving away from straws and other single-use
and at least 75 percent of the Estée Lauder Companies’ packaging will be
refillable, reusable, recycled or recoverable by 2025.
Actions such as these pressure the rest of their respective industries while
simultaneously creating an ROI for their efforts by boosting their brand
reputations and visibility. When competitors see a brand winning over consumers
and claiming additional market share thanks to eco-conscious products and
practices, they’re also more inclined to take actions of their own.
Brands have the opportunity to get creative, both when it comes to how they
increase the use of recycled plastic in their products and how they communicate
regarding those efforts. To keep things fresh and top of mind for consumers,
brands must continually push the envelope and identify new and better ways to
both make products more responsibly and communicate their impact.
With so many examples of early success and so many products and brands not yet
fully engaged in these efforts, there’s no better time to make a commitment to
reducing plastic pollution and limiting the need for virgin plastic. Don’t sit
on the sidelines!
To learn more about how your brand can join the movement and make an impact,
Published Apr 4, 2022 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.