Everyone knows that there is a big problem with plastic.
Over eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year, accounting for over 80% of all marine debris.
Once plastic is dumped into the ocean, it remains there for a very long period.
Over time, plastic will break down into tiny pieces of micro-plastics.
These micro-plastics enter our ocean’s marine life, injuring many species and contaminating our food sources.
Plastic also ends up in landfills, where it can take up to 500 years to properly decompose.
While it is sitting in landfills, plastic will also leak pollutants into the soil and groundwater, running the risk of contamination.
Some plastic will end up in incinerators to be burned.
Some plastic can be recycled but often this is shipped on container boats to developing world countries for recycling, creating a footprint before the recycling even takes place.
So what solutions are there?
As consumers, we can try to reduce our use of single-use plastics, but when it comes to cleaning products, they almost always come in plastic bottles.
You can buy a bottle for life and refill using brands such as Smol or Ocean Saver.
You could use a shampoo bar instead of shampoo in a bottle and you can even ditch plastic toothpaste tubes for Smyle toothpaste mints.
But, the future of plastic bottles may be about to change.
This week, Unilever took another step towards a more sustainable future after announcing a new technology which means they will be able to launch the first-ever paper-based laundry detergent bottle.
This ground-breaking technology has been developed in partnership with the Pulpex consortium, a sustainability collaboration between Unilever, Diageo, Pilot Lite and other industry members.
Unilever has been able to use the technology to package liquid products in first-of-its-kind paper-based bottles.
These bottles are made of sustainably sourced pulp and designed to be recycled in the paper waste stream.
Richard Slater, Unilever Chief R&D Officer, said:
“To tackle plastic waste, we need to completely rethink how we design and package products.
This requires a drastic change that can only be achieved through industry-wide collaboration.”
Unilever owns household brands such as Ben and Jerrys, Persil and Dove, so if the rollout is successful it could have a far-reaching impact on the issue of plastic waste.
The innovative bottles won’t be available in Europe until they have been trialled in Brazil, so don’t expect to see them on the shelves until late this year.
‘Collaboration and innovation are the best tools we have to solve the climate crisis and it’s good to see larger companies start to take this route.
It’s with innovation such as using sustainably sourced paper to replace plastic that we can all take another step towards a more sustainable future’.
Richard Dickson – Co-Founder, Play It Green
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