Awareness of our plastic waste problem continues to grow, prompting campaigns and corporate action around the world. To name but a few recent examples, the Welsh Government and National Geographic are each leading campaigns, Sky is funding solutions for ocean plastic pollution, Unilever, Co-op and Waitrose are developing packaging alternatives, and 42 CPG giants are working with WRAP to eliminate packaging waste in the UK.
This month, Seventh Generation released improved packaging for its dish liquid, while The North Face and Tetra Pak announced new initiatives to reduce disposable cups and plastic straws.
Seventh Generation’s design upgrade for the packaging of its Natural Dish Liquid includes a new bottle and cap that the company says are the first of their kind on the market. The bottle is now entirely made of post-consumer recycled materials (excluding colorant) and the cap – which is now green in color – is made from recycled goods and packaging.
Meanwhile, The North Face is working to eliminate disposable cups from its Endurance Challenge Series (ECS) events. In an effort to reduce waste over the series of 5 races, Hydrapak has been named as the official hydration sponsor of the series and will provide reusable Hydrapak Speedcups™ to runners to use in place of disposable cups through the series.
“We designed the SpeedCup when we saw how much waste was being generated at aid stations during races,” said Morgan Makowski, Director of Marketing at HydraPak. “We’re excited to be partnering with The North Face ECS, which will be our largest cupless partnership in the world, to continue to reduce waste among the trail running community.”
In the past, the ECS has dispensed approximately 140,000 cups per year across its five races. The trend for “cupless” racing is prominent across Europe and a growing movement in North America to minimize debris and offer faster, more efficient aid stations. Joining this movement, The North Face and Hydrapak are providing each registered runner with a lightweight and collapsible Hydrapak Speedcup to reuse at aid stations.
“Reducing our environmental impact in the ECS is an important step, not only are we reducing waste with reusable cups, but we’re helping educate runners and other event hosts about different environmental impacts,” said James Rogers, Director of Sustainability at The North Face.
Aid stations will remain fully staffed and stocked to keep runners fueled and hydrated throughout the races. This year’s ECS kicked off in Washington, D.C. on April 28th, followed by a race in New York on May 5th. Upcoming races include Massachusetts on June 9th, Wisconsin on September 15th and California on November 17th.
The North Face has also been targeting waste from single-use cups and plastic bottles in other ways, such as with its new Bottle Source collection of clothing and tote bags made from cotton and recycled plastic bottles collected from National Park waste streams.
Tetra Pak is also looking at reducing waste from single-use drink containers. Tetra Pak aims to launch a paper straw that is suitable for its portion-sized carton packages before the end of the year, as part of a broader program aimed at addressing the issue of plastic straw waste.
The company has previously worked to encourage customers to push straws “back in the pack” once empty so they can be collected for recycling. Now, it is developing a paper straw that has the strength and safety properties needed to be used on portion size carton packages.
“It sounds simple enough, but there are a number of challenges to producing a paper straw with the required properties,” said Charles Brand, Executive VP, Product Management and Commercial Operations at Tetra Pak. “That said, our development team is confident they can find a solution, and that we’ll be able to offer a paper alternative before the end of the year.”
“Our cartons are already, on average, about 75 percent paperboard, so paper straws are something we know makes sense.”