What’s a much better way to deal with single use plastics than recycling them? Not using them in the first place.
It’s no secret that the world is swimming in plastic waste. In some cases, literally. And a good deal of that plastic was designed for single use. Plastic water and soda bottles, straws, utensils, and carryout packaging are manufactured, used, and then discarded, ending their usefulness and value to society.
According to the EPA, in 2015 the U.S. produced 34.5 million tons of plastics, with 3.1 million tons (9%) recycled. Landfills received 26 million tons. And it’s estimated that worldwide, between 5 million and 12 million tons of plastic waste per year end up in the ocean.
How much better to replace single-use plastics with reusable materials, or – even better – find ways to eliminate them! Here are three examples of communities, and even entire states, taking progressive action to reduce or eliminate certain single-use plastics. Read the full story by clicking on the links.
The city of Berkeley, California, has voted to provide certain disposable plastics only on request, require all dine-in foodware to be reusable, and to charge 25 cents to customers who get a drink in a disposable cup.
Berkeley’s Ecology Center estimates that the average person uses about 235 disposable cups per year, and that “foodware waste makes up two-thirds of street litter in the Bay Area.”
- Sustainable Brands: EPR in Action: TerraCycle, CPG Giants Close ‘Loop’ on Single-Use Packaging
TerraCycle is a leader in recycling items that are difficult to recycle (and Happy Planet Running is a dedicated and grateful user of their Zero Waste Boxes and Gu recycling brigade). Now TerraCycle is piloting Loop, a zero-waste approach to using common consumer products. Items like toothpaste, detergent, soap, juices, and food are shipped to customers in reusable packaging. When empty, the containers are returned to Loop, who cleans and refills them, recovering or recycling any unused products.
The state of Hawaii is discussing legislation that would prohibit buying, selling, using, or distributing plastic items and polystyrene foam containers. If passed, the law would first apply to government agencies, and then one year later to businesses selling food and beverages. And the sale or distribution of single-use plastic bags would be banned.
For some reason, large food and beverage associations oppose the proposed legislation, while environmental groups support it, citing concerns over increasing exposure to microplastics.
Did you enjoy these links? Are you onboard with where they’re going? Well, in a future post, I’ll provide information on entire cities that are going Zero Waste. Stay tuned!