While there are a number of initiatives driving the reduction of plastic usage, one would require support from large conglomerates to achieve greater success in this cause. One of such key initiative is coming from Unilever, who claims to have a customer base of 2.5 billion people on any given day across their 400 odd brands, recognising that major share of the plastic waste is coming from the packaging of consumer products.
The drive towards environmental sustainability initiative that the company has started in 2010, took a major step in 2017 by committing to the reduction of plastic in its packaging with an end goal to make all of its plastic packagings either to reusable, recyclable or to make compostable material by 2025.
In this initiative, Unilever has signed up with an Ellen MacArthur Foundation Initiative called ‘The New Plastic Economy’, whose idea is to ensure that the plastic produced is either recycled or reused preventing them to become waste.
Another initiative named ‘Loop’ launched by a small organisation called ‘TerraCycle’ based out of New Jersey, early this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland has managed to gain support from at least more than a dozen of world’s biggest brands such as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
While these initiatives cost the companies more than what they used to spend using plastic packaging, the customer surveys show that consumers are more aware of the need for a plastic waste-free world and are willing to pay nearly 10% more for a sustainable and easy to use packaging for their products. And initiatives are said to have been getting a better momentum.
Another key aspect that is worth mentioning in this world of online shopping, which is considered more convenient for the customers, is the additional plastic packaging used for ensuring the durability during transportation. The eCommerce giant, Amazon itself has been causing a significant environmental impact with a higher carbon footprint, primarily due to the amount of plastic they have to use for packaging of their shipments.
As a market leader, Amazon has started a new project named ‘Shipment Zero Initiative’, which is intended at making at least 50% of all its shipments emission-free or ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030. They have also started working with the manufacturers worldwide since 2008, to optimise the packaging requirements across the supply chain called ‘Frustration Free Packaging’.
It is primarily about packaging that is made of 100% recyclable materials, easy to open, and designed to ship products in their original packaging, which eliminates the need for an additional shipping box. Over a decade, this program covered close to 750,000 products, thereby reducing the usage of plastic packaging by 215,000 tonnes and 360 million shopping boxes.
While developed nations showcase increased awareness towards such drives, there is a significant portion of work that needs to be done to implement such ideas in developing and underdeveloped nations. This is where similar initiatives from such large organisations can help improve the cause in a larger spectrum across the globe.