May 21, 2024

Plastic panic- don’t be hasty

Karen Lynch, ceo ethical water brand, Belu, insists the answer to your anti-plastics challenge might, in fact, be plastic

Our sector is certainly living in an’˜anti-plastics’€™ time but I predict the tide will turn this year on how we view plastics and all single-use items.

Brands that made knee-jerk decisions to replace plastics with other’˜single-use’€™ items will realise their actions may unintentionally create more harm to the environment. Swaps often undermine recycling and increase carbon emissions with little customer benefit.

Think recycled
Despite being easily recyclable, an ‘eco can’, for example, still contains about 30% new aluminium which requires strip mining and vast amounts of electricity for smelting.This contributes to further social and environmental impacts and needs shipping.

A recycled plastic bottle, by contrast, uses existing resources rather than new. This removes plastic from the waste stream and reduces environmental impacts. Recycled PET generates about 75% less emissions than aluminium and is easily recycled.

Action reductions
In 2019 Eurostar asked Belu and the Sustainable Restaurant Association for help cutting plastic by 50% by 2020. A business-wide review revealed the train operator was giving away over one million plastic water bottles a year. It wanted an environmentally-friendly water bottle and Belu ran a workshop with the team to examine their options. They ran a canned water trial but customers reported a’˜tinny’€™ taste and were frustrated it was not resealable once opened. The cans had to be shipped from Austria too, so Eurostar concluded plastic bottles did have their place’“ especially when they contained a high proportion of recycled plastic (rPET).

Pizza Hut did a similar review and decided to continue to sell Belu water in 100% rPET bottles because they calculated this offered the lightest eco touch and also helped the chain bring clean water to communities worldwide through its charitable connection.

Of course it’s important to embrace the plastics challenge but ensure you consider the recyclability before just swapping out. Use data to do the right thing, choose 100% recycled plastic (rPET), which is the lowest carbon emission option, and be sure your choice can be part of the circular economy.