In the midst of all these climate change protests, Trump’s view on the Paris agreement and the plan from newly elected Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, to destroy the Amazon, we couldn’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of how much we are failing our planet.
The amount of plastic we produce on a yearly basis is unbelievable and has reached unprecedented levels. We are draining our resources to produce all sorts of plastic materials for various packaging such as beverages, toiletries, packaged foods, and wasting our planet’s health at the same time. According to Forbes, plastics are made from fossil fuels and 8% of the world’s annual petroleum production is converted into making those plastics.
But this is not all, on top of all the environmental repercussions of the production process, most packaging made out of plastic is also non recyclable, meaning that only less than 14% of plastics can actually be recycled. One would think that we could most likely replace plastic with a similar and yet more environmental friendly alternative, the same way we have introduced paper bags, but there is actually no (current) solution to this plastic phenomenon as long as we decide to use it.
There is some good news, however, as the production of plastic is actually on the decrease, and this awareness of it destroying our planet seems to be increasing. People are making the decision to re-use their paper or cloth bags, they are more aware of the un-biodegradable nature of the material and are making more sustainable purchases.
But on the other hand, plastic is a light-weight, durable and cheap material to produce, unlike other materials such as cardboard and bio-paper that are much more expensive to make, and less durable. Plastic also has amazing capacity to keep our foods safe from diseases for a longer period of time, and saves a lot of transportation costs for food producers.
All these reasons combined is why finding a good alternative to plastic is not as straightforward as you would think. Of course we all want to reduce plastic waste, but we still need to work together to find a material with the same benefits. These new materials will need to have all the positive aspects of plastic (durability, be light weight, and cheap to produce) as well as replace its negative ones (no fossil fuels, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.)
Which is why the future of plastic solely relies strongly on innovators, and luckily for us, they have been working together all over the world to reinvent the material for a while now, and seem to be getting closer and closer to its best alternative.
There are already a few companies out there that have found amazing innovations, such as Evoware, an Indonesia-based company, which produces eco-friendly packaging solutions created from seaweeds. The materials dissolve in waters, and is safe to eat. This is therefore a groundbreaking solution for the dangers plastic has in our oceans, and is an invention that is bringing us one step closer to saving our planet.
Another company that have managed to find a sustainable replacement to plastic is NUATAN, a company which produces a 100% raw renewable, corn-based material. The material was created for companies, brands and designers with the vision to create value-added products with a positive impact on the environment.
Do you feel like you’ve got a good sense of how urgent it is to spread the word, stop buying plastic materials and help the world make a change? Please do all the research you can on the topic, we highly recommend you reading This Changes Everything or Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, two great reads to understand the consequences of global warming.