8.3 billion tonnes! Yes, 8.3 billion tonnes is the volume of plastic generated by humans, globally, since 1950.
A huge percentage of generated plastic has been improperly disposed of on land and in the ocean, causing plastic pollution.
An overdependence on plastic has outmatched almost all other materials used for manufacturing.
However, humanity is on its way to permanently contaminating the natural environment.
What Is Plastic Pollution?
Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles in the environment. Such objects negatively affect wildlife, marine life, and their habitats.
They also pose a threat to human health through the contamination of soil and water.
The root cause of plastic pollution is a combination of factors including the disposal of plastic waste in landfills and the ocean, as well as littering and improper waste management.
How Do Companies Contribute To Plastic Pollution?
Companies contribute to plastic pollution in a variety of ways, including:
Producing Single-Use Plastic Products
Many companies produce products for single-use and throw purposes. Such products can provide utility only once, such as plastic bags, straws, and packaging materials.
These products later become litter and end up in the environment after a single use.
Lack Of Proper Waste Management
Some companies do not have proper systems in place to manage the waste they produce. Such inadequate management at a global level comes at a cost.
It leads to plastic ending up in landfills, oceans, or the natural environment.
Using Plastic Packaging
Many companies use plastic packaging to package their products. Using plastic packages can also contribute to plastic pollution. If plastic is not recycled or disposed of, it can cause plastic pollution.
Not Using Sustainable Alternatives
Many companies do not invest in sustainable alternatives to plastic. These alternatives include biodegradable and paper-based packaging. Investing in such options would help to reduce the amount of plastic pollution.
Not Taking Responsibility For Plastic Pollution
When organizations do not take responsibility, plastic pollution grows unhinged. This includes organizations that are not investing in efforts to reduce the amount of plastic they produce.
Not Complying With Regulations
Another way of yielding to plastic pollution is non-compliance. This occurs when organizations do not follow rules related to plastic pollution. Such neglect in waste management can contribute to plastic pollution.
How Companies Can Reduce Plastic Pollution
This writing aims to define how businesses can reduce plastic pollution. So let us take a look at the following steps to reduce the same.
Performing Plastic Audits
In a plastic audit, companies conduct a detailed analysis of their plastic usage. They identify the areas for improvement in plastic usage. Finally, they put in place strategies to reduce plastic waste and increase sustainability.
The first step is to take inventory of all plastic products used in the company. The next step is to identify areas where the company can reduce its plastic usage.
After identification is the development of a plan of action to reduce plastic waste. Implementation and monitoring of the action plan follow to complete the plastic audit.
Eliminating Single-Use Plastics
Companies can end single-use plastics by substitution, reduction, reusing, recycling, education, and innovation.
Organizations can substitute single-use plastics for more sustainable alternatives, such as bioplastics. They can also reduce the size of the packaging, and cut unnecessary packaging.
Campaigns and recycling programs are a great way to end single-use plastic. Education and innovation are fundamental in creating new sustainable products and packaging.
Collaborations with companies and public commitments will further strengthen the cause.
By Providing Education To Staff, Customers And Stakeholders
Employee education is a great way to reduce plastic pollution. Companies can equip workers to understand the impact of plastic pollution and countermeasures.
Internal policies can help lower the usage of plastics and promote recycling. Another manner of educating is to incentivize creative solutions to plastic pollution.
Regular communication about plastic reduction to employees will produce good results. Green teams can focus on plastic reduction and be trained to find solutions.
Organizations can motivate employees to commit to plastic reduction. By doing so they can lead the cause of plastic reduction by example.
Examples of Companies Who Took Steps To Reduce Plastic Pollution
As the world is moving towards a plastic-less era, some companies are swimming with the tide. This move was obvious as organizations cannot ignore the consensus.
Not only consumers, but even investors are now pushing organizations to reduce plastic.
Nestlé announced its pledge to make all its packaging recyclable by 2025.
Unilever, too, announced that its packaging will be compostable by 2025. It also called on other organizations to join the cause.
McDonald’s also announced that 100% of its restaurants will reuse packaging by 2025.
Volvo set a goal of using recycled plastic in at least 25% of its car parts. It has said it will ensure safety and quality along with reducing plastic.
These trends are showing that businesses are open to innovating and reducing plastic.
Will Companies Survive Without Plastic?
Businesses can survive without plastic, as there are other options. The degree to which a company can operate without plastic is the point.
It would vary for different products. It would also vary for different types of packaging materials.
The availability and cost of alternative materials would also play a major role. Some companies have embraced sustainable practices in recent times.
These include recycling, reducing, and reusing plastics. Packaging industries might have to adapt their business to survive without plastic.
Looking at recent developments, it seems possible for businesses to survive without plastic.
If businesses do not reduce plastic pollution, it will have negative consequences. Wildlife, marine life, ecosystems, tourism, and fishing industries will face turmoil.
There will be a sharp increase in climate change through the release of greenhouse gases. Plastic pollution will impact humans through the ingestion of and exposure to plastic.
Thus, poverty and underdevelopment will thrive in areas of high exposure.
Companies must step up and reduce their carbon footprint. The protection of the environment and human health lies in the reduction of plastic pollution.
- BBC News. (2018, January 16). McDonald’s aims for fully recycled packaging by 2025. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-42704291
- Nestlé aiming at 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. (n.d.). Nestlé Global. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.nestle.com/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/nestle-recyclable-reusable-packaging-by-2025
- Thomson Reuters Foundation. (n.d.). Volvo sets goal of 25 percent recycled plastics in cars from 2025. News.trust.org. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://news.trust.org/item/20180618040014-h9d41/
- Unilever, P. L. C. (2017, January 14). Unilever commits to 100% recyclable plastic packaging by 2025. Unilever PLC. https://www.unilever.com/news/press-and-media/press-releases/2017/unilever-commits-to-100-percent-recyclable-plastic/