6 Innovative Substitutes for Single-Use Plastic
In 2018, the United Nations reported that more than 400 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year, with only 9% (36 million tonnes) being recycled. Single-use plastic has steadily become a problem of catastrophic proportions for many reasons, including the fact that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of it enter the ocean, and negatively impact aquatic life, each year. Here at Eco To Go, we’re doing our bit to help remove single-use plastic from society with our commercially compostable and sustainable food packs, and here’s a look at how others are attempting to improve the problem, too.
PriestmanGoode’s Meal Tray of the Future
A brand-new exhibition at London’s Design Museum, created by design agency PriestmanGoode, aims to show airlines how they can swap their current in-flight utensils, such as plastic cups, stirrers and cutlery, for eco-friendly alternatives. The inventive design features a waffle cone as a dessert dish and algae skins as containers for milk and salad dressing. The salad pot itself is made from a single pressed banana leaf and the accompanying spork is made of coconut wood. While it may be some time before we see these kinds of changes put into effect, many airlines are already taking steps to reduce their plastic usage. Virgin Atlantic, for example, has started putting their in-flight headphones in charity donation envelopes and British Airways have replaced their plastic stirrers with bamboo alternatives. Australian airline Qantas have gone the extra mile by trialling a zero-waste flight, with aims to eliminate 75% of its waste within the next 2 years.
Unilever to Halve Plastic Usage by 2025
Multinational conglomerate Unilever is planning to introduce reusable and refillable packaging for many of its products, as well as using alternative materials to manufacture them with the aim to halve its plastic usage by 2025. The company’s product ranges have already begun to change, with Cif refills available for spray bottles and wrapper-less multipacks of Solero ice lollies. In South-East Asia, refill stations for shampoo and laundry detergent are being trialled, as well as shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets and cardboard deodorant sticks.
“Give Back Life” Programme Launched in Sri Lanka
The Coca-Cola Company, working with the Road Development Authority and Eco-Spindles, has introduced a campaign in Sri Lanka to ensure that PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic can be reused or recycled. Collection bins have been placed strategically at exit points along the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway, which allow motorists to dispose of their PET plastic bottles for recycling, without littering public places. So far, 22 bins have been put in place, with all bottles collected being used by Eco-Spindles to produce yarn and brushes, among other products. The “Give Back Life” initiative promotes individual responsibility in waste disposal and recycling, and Coca-Cola have recently set a target to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of its packaging by 2030.
Sainsbury’s Rolls Out Reusable Drawstring Bag for Loose Fruit and Veg
After successful trials in Lincoln and Kidlington stores, leading supermarket Sainsbury’s has removed all plastic bags from its fruit and veg aisles. This will save approximately 515 tonnes of plastic each year. Customers can now purchase a reusable drawstring bag, made from recycled plastic bottles, which are available in store for 30p. Some customers questioned why paper bags were not introduced as the new alternative, to which Sainsbury’s alleges that these have no benefit in terms of increasing freshness of fruit and vegetables. However, paper bags do help preserve the freshness of bakery items, and so Sainsbury’s have replaced the plastic bags in this aisle with paper alternatives. In doing so, they are set to remove 26 tonnes of plastic from stores each year. Customers are also welcome to bring their own containers for these loose products. The supermarket is considering several other changes, including a ‘pre-cycling’ trial (where customers can recycle plastic packaging before they leave the store), removing plastic bags from online grocery deliveries, removing plastic trays from feta cheese displays and introducing an online tool allowing the public to submit ideas on how to help reduce single-use plastic, which can be found here.
Reusable Straws for Every Drink
As plastic straws become obsolete, the want for them does not wane. This has led to a whole host of new alternatives popping up online, all of which are eco-friendly. From collapsible stainless steel to bent glass, there’s an ecological straw to suit every drink. Here are a few of our favourites:
Vantic Portable Reusable Drinking Straws – They collapse to a compact size for ease of transport and the length can then be adjusted to suit a variety of cups and glasses. These straws are available in several colours and include a brush for cleaning any residue after use.
Reusable Bent Glass Drinking Straws – These straws won’t absorb flavours or odours and can be bought straight or bendy. Again, cleaning brushes are included.
Five Two Silicone Straws with Carrying Cases and Squeegees – BPA- free and dishwasher safe, these foldable silicone straws are soft and durable. They are available with silicone carrying cases and squeegees for cleaning.
Wantell Silicone Tipped Stainless Steel Straws – If you prefer stainless steel over silicone or glass, but favour hot over cold liquids, these metal straws are equipped with silicone tips to protect your lips from the heat.
Tecvinci Stainless Steel Boba Straws with Silicone Tips – These straws have an extra wide diameter, making them ideal for milkshakes, bubble tea and slushies, and have an angled bottom. Silicone tips ensure that your lips are protected from the icy cold that this straw is intended for.
While it has been argued that plastic straws are only 2% of our single-use plastic problem and that environmental focus should be shifted elsewhere, a USA national coastal clean-up found that straws are the 6th most common plastic item found in the ocean, with 144,464 being collected over 12,051 miles. It’s also approximated that plastic straws can last for 200 years, therefore meaning they can pollute our oceans, and impact the lives of aquatic creatures, for years to come. Due to this, the combatting of this single-use plastic is sure to make a lasting impact.
NOTPLA’s Edible Seaweed Drinks Capsules
“Ooho” capsules, which are biodegradable pods that can be filled with liquid, can be consumed whole or bitten into. Any discarded wrapping will naturally decompose in 4 to 6 weeks. These pods were trialled on a mass scale at this year’s London Marathon, after an estimated 760,000 plastic bottles were left discarded after last years event. Also, as part of this years London Cocktail Week, the Glenlivet “Capsule Collection” will be available for a limited period, featuring scotch whiskey in a small, square-shaped edible pouch.