As usual, plastic waste is front and center in the news. “It’s polluting oceans, filling up landfills, not degrading or going away, and as quickly as we make new plastic products and package things in single use plastic packaging … all this plastic waste compounds and gets worse.”
Finally.. big companies and big brands are definitely listening. To who? To consumers that care and make purchasing decisions with sustainability and social purpose in mind. Big companies and big brands have been announcing big plastic-related sustainability commitments. Examples.
- PepsiCo North America’s achievement of 95% recyclable plastic packaging
- Nestle’s commitment to phasing out non-recyclable plastics by 2025
- KFC’s goal of 100% recoverable or reusable plastic-based packaging by 2025.
Clearly, Corporate America is (all in) committing themselves to tackling the plastic waste problem. The question is..
IS RECYCLING “THE” SOLUTION?
We along with many Consumers are big advocates of plastic recycling. The good news is 55% of consumers claim to recycle everything that can be recycled? The not-so good news is when you drill into the actual (data), what consumers really mean is they recycle the stuff that’s (conveniently) located near their recycling bin in the kitchen, yet in reality everything else hits the trash.
The Take Away.
What we’ve learned is consumers care about our environment, they are proud of their efforts to protect our environment, they make purchasing decisions in part based on our environment, but … we also learned that consumers are actually a tad lazy about recycling.
What Does That Mean to Businesses and Brands?
It means Opportunity & Responsibility. Big business and big brands are making it easier for consumers to “feel good” about their sustainability efforts by taking charge, by making products and packaging that are more sustainable and socially purposeful, by implementing a variety of plastic recycling and sustainability initiatives, in essence doing the hard work on behalf of the consumer.
Challenges are abound …
As a result of consumer recycling “inaction” and multiple challenges including (1) lack of government or financial incentive to invest in recycling & sustainability, (2) limited supply chain collaboration, (3) challenging economic and market conditions, (4) heavy risk investing in recycling infrastructure, and (5) China refusing to accept the 30-40% of plastic recyclables we used to ship overseas, the vast majority of recyclable thermo plastic materials, like 90%, still get trashed (Landfilled)!! That’s the reality we are living in. 90%.
THAT MEANS ONLY AROUND 10% OF THE THERMO PLASTIC MATERIALS WE USE THAT COULD BE RECYCLED, ACTUALLY GET RECYCLED.
So if you are a big company, or a big brand, and you generate “branded trash including branded plastic waste … just know that 90% of your branded plastic trash is winding up in our landfills or natural ecosystem with your hand prints all over it! Apologies for being harsh.
As circular economy plastics sustainability advisors, we spend our waking business hours helping companies, brands, manufacturers, distributors, recycling firms solve their plastic waste issues, including recycling, redesign, reuse, recollection, technology, innovation, circular economy, and so on.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
After 30 years involved in plastics recycling sustainability and circular economy solutions, and 900m pounds of hands-on experience, we’ve learned there’s no cookie cutter approach to plastics sustainability and there’s no “one single solution” to solving the plastic waste issue.
One new plastic sustainability concept that launched recently represents a new option to deal with “branded plastic trash”. It’s known as reusable rather than single-use recyclable products. Nestle, P&G, PepsiCo, Unilever and other major brands and companies are joining to participate in a new reusable home goods subscription service known as Loop.
Loop was created by TerraCycle, who’s been an innovator in sustainability for years. We applaud them! Similar to the old school “milk delivery” practice from long ago, products come delivered to your doorstep in a reusable shipping container and all in reusable packaging: simply return and reuse. It’s way too early to tell how Loop will fare (and there is still the question of carbon impact associated with the service) but it’s another exciting innovative example of rethinking solutions to the plastic waste crisis. Whether Loop works or not, or any of the many other sustainability initiatives under way, the bigger point is, we (all) need to rethink how we interact with plastics.
TIME TO RETHINK
- How we buy and use plastic raw materials to make plastic products and packaging and how manufacturers can increase their use of recycled plastic resins and additives that support plastic sustainability. Increasing use of recycled plastic raw materials including Bulk Sustainable Raw Material Purchasing, can help make plastic-products more sustainable and build the “demand” for recycling infrastructure long term. GearedforGreen’s eco supply chain not only supplies more than 1B Pounds of Sustainable Plastic Resins annually, we provide total support every step of the way from lab to your production floor, to help manufacturers use recycled and sustainable plastic raw materials most effectively.
- How we recycle plastic waste generated in manufacturing, distribution and after consumer use, including toll reuse, certified destruction brand protection, closed loop and open loop, connecting circular economies, creating end of use consumer incentives, building “social purpose” into recycling, and so on. The Plastics manufacturing and Packaging industries must remember that a substantial amount of industrial and commercial plastic waste gets generated well before it ever reaches the intended consumer. GearedforGreen helps manufacturers to recycle post-industrial and post-consumer plastic waste, clean or even contaminated, in many forms including rigid, flexible, and film, including HDPE, LDPE, HMWPE, PP, PS, PET, PVC, as well as many engineered grades such as ABS, POLYCARBONATE, ACRYLIC, NYLON, etc. Industries have the opportunity to rethink their own plastic waste management practices, rethink of plastic waste not as trash but instead as a circular economy raw material, and connect together to implement supply chain solutions to eliminate plastic waste.
- How businesses buy plastic products they use themselves in their own everyday corporate operations and what could influence them to make more sustainable purchasing decisions themselves. If businesses purchased more sustainably made plastic products themselves, they can help build recycling “demand”. Big companies, brands and retailers use quite a bit of plastic products themselves in their own every day operations. Just look around. Plastic can liners, trash bags, check out plastic bags, eCommerce shipping bags, stretch wrap, plastic poly bags & wraps, plastic shipping hangers, trash cans, recycling bins, plastic shipping pallets, dunnage and conveyance trays, storage containers, corporate branded uniforms and promotional products, and so on. You get the idea? These plastic products are all made from the same kinds of thermo plastic materials generated as plastic waste. Gearedforgreen helps turn all that plastic waste back into brand new sustainable plastic products. Buying GREEN not only raises awareness and educates stakeholders, it represents billions of pounds of plastic products purchased & used in everyday corporate operations that could be and should be made entirely in America and from 100% recycled plastics.
- How we connect collaboratively and transparently with our supply chains to create efficiencies, share resources, reuse plastic waste more effectively, design-out plastic waste in our products, re-design products for end-of-use recycling, use alternative packaging materials, and integrate innovations that support plastics recycling and sustainability. GearedforGreen helps industry connect all the dots within the supply chain… creating Connected, Collaborative, Transparent Circular Economies that collect plastic waste, turn it into clean high quality custom formulated sustainable plastic raw materials, and back into all kinds of consumer and industrial plastic products.
- How we communicate our sustainability and “social purpose” to create stronger relationships with employees, consumers, customers, supply chain partners, etc., to educate, raise environmental awareness, differentiate from competitors, and build more purposeful powerful brands. GearedforGreen helps integrate consumer market insight with social partnerships, including Lives Per Pound to help our clients enhance economic, environmental and social value.
To implement plastics sustainability initiatives for your business or organization, contact GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, email@example.com or visit www.gearedforgreen.com
Over the years we’ve worked on many different types of plastic circular economy programs for clients. We’ve helped retailers create their own internal “Demand” for their plastic waste by closing their own loops into products they use in operations. We’ve helped Plastic Manufacturers achieve zero plastic waste in their operations and create strategies to increase usage of “sustainable” plastic raw materials in their products to gain competitive & market advantages. We’ve “Connected” Eco Supply Chains for clients creating their own circular economies. We’ve helped Consumer Brands connect socially sustainable missions to raise awareness and connect stronger with consumers. We’ve helped distribution channels implement zero plastic waste initiatives to reduce cost and landfill impact and Packaging producers implement redesign, raw material & single use packaging recycling solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.
Each client brings exciting new opportunities to improve sustainability! One thing we’ve learned is there is No Cookie Cutter Approach to plastic sustainability and circular economies. Each client has their own unique goals, logistics, products, brand, supply chain and so on.
Creating successful circular economies is as much about Listening & Learning as it is about understanding Plastics-Polymers-Recycling-Technology, as it is about Innovation & Efficiency, as it is about Environment & Resources, and Passion & Persistence.
That said, we do have (5) Key Elements we integrate into every GearedforGreen plastic circular economy program for our clients. They are our Guiding Principles we integrate into everything we do.
MIMIC is the Circular Economy Ecosystem we help create for our clients, following the natural ecosystem we live in today. We believe that plastic circular economies must focus equally on environmental, economic, and social sustainability in order to be effective long term. So we created MIMIC to ensure that all our efforts keep these principles in mind with everything we do. MIMIC stands for Materials, Innovation, Money, Improvement, Connection.
MATERIALS: Have a deep understanding of plastics, polymers and their physical properties, how plastics are recycled, technologies to recycle challenging materials, the supply chain of local regional recyclable collectors and processors, what recycled plastic materials can be turned into, and what materials can be reused instead of recycled. Maintain extensive expertise in sustainable raw material selection, including additives, engineering and tooling to enhance access and reuse of sustainable raw materials in manufacturing. Utilize science, measurement and certification to ensure the work we do positively impacts sustainability.
INNOVATION: Use our creativity & imagination to look beyond “business as usual “ to help create strategies that truly improve economic, environmental, social brand value over and above “price per pound”. Be forward thinking when constructing circular economies to improve performance, increase efficiency and speed to market. Utilize innovation to enhance and connect internal & external sustainability. Access consumer market data to create competitive differentiation.
MONEY: Circular economy sustainability is as much about “money and value creation” as it is about environment. If sustainability doesn’t cause economic benefit, its not sustainable long term. Focus equally on economic, environmental and social value creation, including bottom line, top line, brand, stakeholder value, and shared-leveraged-stabilized supply chain value.
IMPROVEMENT: Even before we’re done implementing plastic circular economy solutions, “Continual Improvement” strategy is required. Change is the only constant, so we balance the use of today’s newest technologies, materials, resources & circular economy methodologies while staying flexible, relevant and proactive to utilize newest & future shared practices, resources and technologies.
CONNECTION: Circular Economies are all about connecting, collaboration, teamwork & transparency to help our clients and their supply chains improve sustainability “together”. Connecting the supply chain facilitates shared resources & best practices along with communication to educate, raise awareness, and increase sustainability with supply chain partners, stakeholders, customers and consumers.
To learn more about plastics sustainability, recycling, zero plastic waste solutions, raw materials, packaging solutions, circular economies, social partnerships, eco apparel and uniforms, and MIMIC our five elements to create successful plastics circular economies, contact GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR)4327, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.gearedforgreen.com
Most Plastic Films & Bags including grocery bags, shopping bags, retail bags, Stretch Wraps, and Shrink Wraps are primarily made using #polyethylene based plastic resins, generally #lowdensitypolyethylene, #highdensitypolyethylene, #linearlowdensitypolyethylene, or blended #polyethylenes.
In all cases, polyethylene films & bags are 100% recyclable. Polyethylene is a “Thermoplastic” material and nearly all thermoplastic materials can be recycled because their polymer chains have been specifically designed to weaken rapidly during the recycling melting process, turning into a viscous liquid that can be reshaped into all kinds of new products, including new films, bags and even rigid plastic materials too.
When it comes to plastic film & bag waste,
their are typically three (3) primary categories of plastic waste…
1. Industrial waste – that is waste generated in the manufacturing process which is generally cleaner and easier to recycle.
2. Commercial waste – that is waste generated after use but in tighter supply chains such as between manufacturing & distribution which is often still contaminated.
3. Consumer waste – that is waste generated after use by consumers which is generally more contaminated with both (plastic and non plastic contaminates) and more challenging to recycle.
The challenges in recycling Industrial Plastic Waste is that in many cases, the plastic waste contains heavy inks and possibly coatings which limit how much of this waste can be recycled back by the manufacturers. Also, these plastic typically are printed with “branded” content making certified destruction a requirement. GearedforGreen helps solve these challenge by using specialized technologies and by ensuring the plastic waste is recycled at facilities that track the certified destruction process.
Commercial & Consumer film and bag recycling comes with many additional recycling challenges, including much heavier degrees of (plastic & non plastic) contamination that must be removed prior to recycling. GearedforGreen helps solve these challenge by using sophisticated eco-supply chain film and bag recycling technologies including proprietary washing, screening, re-pelletization systems that remove a much greater % of contamination, producing a far more “pure” grade of recycled plastic resin that can be reused back into a wider more broad array of applications that can absorb the greater volume.
Another significant challenge in managing Commercial and Consumer plastic film and bag sustainability initiatives is managing the supply-demand dynamics as well as long term pricing dynamics. This is because the quantity and volume of commercial and consumer plastic film-bag waste is enormous, and in order to solve this issue longer term, we must utilize indexed pricing that links the value of scrap with the value of resin so that they both rise and fall together over time along with normal market conditions, to maintain a longer term value proposition for both waste generators and resin buyers in the supply chain.
Whether you generate plastic film and bag waste or would like to use recycled resins in you products, Gearedforgreen can help GUIDE you implement a successful long term plastic film and bag recycling initiative. In 2019 Let’s get Sustainable Together.
WHEN IT COMES TO CORPORATE PLASTICS SUSTAINABILITY, YOUR IMPULSE TO FOCUS ON LINEAR ECONOMIC VALUE MAY BE WRONG.by gearedforgreen November 23, 2018 cardboard box reuse circular supply chain decoating technology Dow eco apparel eco supply chain gearedforgreen packaging plastic raw materials plastic recycling plastic resins Proctor & Gamble social partnerships sustainable packaging sustainableshopping
When it comes to corporate plastics sustainability, especially as it relates to single use plastic packaging and consumer plastic products, your impulse may be to focus on “linear economic value” meaning the cost of your packaging materials, raw materials, landfill & disposal, and the price per pound economic value you achieve buying & selling plastic. Each individually are considered “linear one way” transactions that provide either one way economic savings or revenue.
“It is worth self- examining your product, packaging, your customer, your competitor, your industry, our environment, the consumer market, and ask.. Why still today do we discard nearly 90% of all plastics worldwide and how will this impact your business.
Impulsively we tend to think traditionally as we have for many years prior, treating “value” simply in terms of economic value, treating plastic raw materials simply as “commodities” and treating waste simply as scrap and not as “future resources”. We overlook so much more “value” that can benefit our businesses.
One of the lessons I’ve learned over time at GearedforGreen from working with industry leading brands, retailers, and business advisory circular economy specialist is.. change doesn’t come easy nor without risk, BUT, regardless of our size, without it, our failure is 100% inevitable.
There is something to say about change, about innovation, about seeing the forest 🌳 through the trees, the end goal. Today we see new companies embracing new innovations and change, wasting less resources, using resources and supply chains more strategically, partnering in circular economies and finding new ways to set themselves apart from competitors by differentiating themselves in the market. These companies tend to thrive! Yet we also see decade’s old companies failing to change, failing to embrace sustainability, not understanding lost value, just maintaining status quo and ultimately stagnating and falling by the waste-side.
The fact is, when it comes to plastics sustainability we need to look beyond linear one-way relationships, beyond the initial one-way economic value, and consider “overall economic-environmental-social-reputational value” that can be achieved via sustainability, connecting circularly and transparently with Supply Chain partners and with Consumers.
Irrespective of your actions leading up to today and regardless of the size of your company, plastics sustainability and circular economies really matter to your Bottom Line, Top Line, and Brand and to the relationships you create with your customers.
To learn how we can help provide circular economy and plastics sustainability solutions for your company, contact Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 email@example.com, www.gearedforgreen.com
In a highly resource-constrained world, where export demand is dwindling, and domestic markets are getting saturated, there’s little room for waste or wasted opportunity! For all us in the plastics manufacturing world making, using, selling plastic products, getting creative and innovative with the way we obtain, use, and dispose of plastic materials and how we buy and use sustainable raw materials will be KEY for a long term healthy and sustainable plastics industry.
We all should understand that unless we change what we do and how we do it, we cannot expect different results. If not now… WHEN?
Businesses, organizations, and governments are making the shift to “go circular,” implementing smarter processes for sustainable inputs, improved product design, more efficient delivery methods, and close loop – open loop initiatives for materials in manufacturing and after end use. For us in the plastics world… this is the basis of our circular economy and it’s one of the biggest growth opportunities for plastics businesses and brands!
The circular economy is a $4.5 trillion opportunity according to Accenture. Who in our plastics industry wouldn’t want to get circular? For companies making, using, distributing, and selling plastic products, it’s important to understand the distinction between your linear supply chain versus a circular supply chain and how that can improve your businesses and brand.
Here are two steps you can take towards getting circular
1st establish an initial sustainability plan that outlines your goals and time lines to grow circularly. Share your plan internally and get your internal team rowing in the same direction. Plans need to include how you make, package, deliver, sell plastic products more sustainably and how you communicate and educate your sustainability and end-of-use recycling options to your customers and consumers.
2nd begin connecting your sustainability goals with your supply chain partners to form solutions together. Connecting the dots and building connected transparent teamwork within your supply chain is absolutely imperative. Connecting a circular supply chain will ultimately lead you to increased innovation and efficiency. Initiatives should connect multiple areas of your the supply chain including plastic resin, packaging, mold and tooling, recycling, solid waste management, sustainability and market insight and brand communications.
Many companies seeking to connect in circular economy supply chains utilize the services of Circular Supply Chain Advisory firms to assist in connecting the dots. To learn how you can connect in the circular economy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gearedforgreen.com
We hear this year’s Sustainable Brands Conference was super successful. There’s no doubt lots of great progress being made by corporate America!by gearedforgreen June 17, 2018 cardboard box reuse circular supply chain decoating technology Dow eco apparel eco brand marketing eco supply chain gearedforgreen plastic raw materials plastic recycling social partnerships sustainability sustainable packaging sustainableshopping
According to industry leading brands.. here are (3) takeaways you should consider if you want to build a more sustainable business and brand
1. Start adding social purpose to your brand sustainability initiatives
Kirti Singh, VP of Analytics and Insights at P&G spoke passionately about this. We’ve all pondered about what our brands “do for people” and how they “make people feel”. The notion of how our brands make society better is an increasingly important conversation in consumer product industries.
We highly encourage all of our brand clients to integrate “social sustainable purposeful practices” as integral components of their business models, considering a brand’s physical, personal and societal benefit.
Social sustainability surrounds your brand with passion and purpose, creates your story, creates conversations around the table, and creates stronger connections with consumers and your employees.
As part of our inside-out sustainability approach, we help clients develop and implement their socially sustainable partnerships including using ocean 🌊 collected plastics back into products, developing sustainable collaborations around shared causes like “Lives Per Pound” using plastic waste to make products like water filtration systems that to save lives in developing countries.
When social purpose connects with functionality and consumer value, that’s the real grand slam! As example, Cold Water Tide uses less electricity (which results in lower carbon impact with every load of laundry), and actually goes easier on clothes ensuring they last longer. This multi benefits us consumers, our clothes get clean, they last longer and we lower our impact on the planet. Functional + Societal + Emotional benefits. Yeah! Let’s buy Tide!
2. Sustainable brands advocate with other brands
David Grayson, Chris Coulter and Mark Lee have created a framework and a book called All In: The Future of Business Leadership. The framework is this: Purpose, Plan, Culture, Collaboration, Advocacy. It’s a fantastic read.
We’ve been preaching for a long time that brands with a strong social and sustainable purpose are the ones that will thrive in the future. There’s plenty of research to substantiate this, which is why leading Brands including Proctor and Gamble and Nestle have been changing their culture as socially sustainable companies that care about our environment and us consumers.
3. Sustainability and consumer communities have embraced the false narrative that “plastic is bad” when in fact “plastic is vital”
We have been deeply-passionately involved in plastics, recycling, sustainable raw material, packaging optimization, sustainable technology, and circular eco supply chain collaboration for 20+ years..
We are proud to have helped many clients and supply chain partners to achieve significant sustainability enhancements including zero plastic waste.
For all us involved in the supply chain of Plastics and Sustainability.. it’s more vital than ever that we get active, get diligent, get involved in circular sustainability, collaborate, and change the conversation from “plastic is bad” to “plastic waste is bad.”
Plastic is vital! As example, transportation industries from trains, planes, and automobiles (great movie 😀) use plastic to get lighter and more fuel efficient. Food lasts longer with less waste in distribution, on retail shelves, and at home using plastics. There are literally thousands of applications where plastics make sustainability possible. Even single use plastics play a vital role in our lives and towards sustainability.
That said … we MUST all work together to solve the plastic disposal and ocean debris crisis!!! It’s real. Plastic and micro plastic waste is a catastrophic problem we as a plastics, recycling, and sustainability community must help STOP.
Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, as the “ocean plastics” issue gets talked about – and its talked about often.. attitudes perpetuate the notion that all plastics are bad. WE as sustainability service providers and sustainability brand marketers MUST CHANGE THE NARRATIVE from Plastic = Bad to Plastic Waste = Bad.
To learn more about strategies and steps you can take over time to become a sustainable company and brand, contact GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 email@example.com, www.gearedforgreen.com
Solutions? Bio Plastics, Plastic Recycling, Circular Supply Chains, Using Less … great article by #LaurieParkerby gearedforgreen June 10, 2018 cardboard boxes circular supply chain decoating technology eco apparel eco brand marketing eco supply chain Exxon gearedforgreen packaging plastic plastic raw materials plastic recycling plastic resins Proctor & Gamble recycling social partnerships sustainable packaging sustainableshopping
IN A WORLD THAT CAN SEEM overwhelmed by potentially eternal plastic waste, are biodegradables the ultimate solution? Probably not. But it’s complicated. The industry is still debating what “biodegradable” actually means. And some plastics made of fossil fuels will biodegrade, while some plant-based “bioplastics” won’t.
Biodegradable plastics have been around since the late 1980s. They initially were marketed with the implied promise that they’d somehow disappear once they were disposed of, just as leaves on the forest floor are decomposed by fungi and soil microbes. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Biodegradables don’t live up to their promise, for example, in the dark, oxygen-free environment of a commercial landfill or in the cool waters of the ocean, if they should end up there. You can’t throw them in your backyard compost either. To break down, they require the 130-degree heat of an industrial composter. Many industrial composters accept only plastics that meet certain standards, ensuring they will leave no fragments behind that can harm the environment or human health. And if you throw some biodegradables in with recyclables, you might ruin the latter, creating a mix that can no longer be relied on to make durable new plastic. In 2015 the United Nations Environment Program wrote off biodegradables as an unrealistic solution that will neither reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the oceans nor prevent potential chemical or physical harm to marine life. It concluded that the label “biodegradable” may actually encourage littering.
Some engineers are looking for ways around these obstacles. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute are using polymers synthesized by microbes to make packaging they hope will compost readily and biodegrade in the ocean. Corn chip bags are their first target.
It’s a tall order. Even the best biodegradable product won’t magically disappear. A plastic container robust enough to carry a gallon of milk can’t decompose like paper. A flowerpot, one of Polymateria’s experimental products, could take up to two years to dissolve if tossed in a ditch, Dunne concedes. Biodegradables, some critics say, don’t address the fundamental problem: our throwaway culture.
“What is it that we are promoting?” asks Ramani Narayan, a Michigan State University chemical engineering professor. “Throw it away, and eventually it will go away?” The more responsible approach, he says, is a “circular economy” model, in which everything is reused or recycled and “any ‘leakage’ into the environment, whether biodegradable or not, is not acceptable.”
China is providing motivation. For nearly three decades it has bought about half the world’s recyclable plastic. But this year it called a halt to most scrap imports. Recyclables are now piling up in the countries that generated them. “We hope it will push towards more circular management.”
To learn more about this National Geographic article by #LaurieParker and GearedforGreen sustainability, recycling, raw material, circular supply chain services, please contact us at:
IN A LABORATORY AT Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, New York, Debra Lee Magadini positions a slide under a microscope and flicks on an ultraviolet light. Scrutinizing the liquefied digestive tract of a shrimp she bought at a fish market, she makes a tsk-ing sound. After examining every millimeter of the slide, she blurts, “This shrimp is fiber city!” Inside its gut, seven squiggles of plastic, dyed with Nile red stain, fluoresce.
All over the world, researchers like Magadini are staring through microscopes at tiny pieces of plastic—fibers, fragments, or microbeads—that have made their way into marine and freshwater species, both wild caught and farmed. Scientists have found microplastics in 114 aquatic species, and more than half of those end up on our dinner plates. Now they are trying to determine what that means for human health.
So far science lacks evidence that microplastics—pieces smaller than one-fifth of an inch—are affecting fish at the population level. Our food supply doesn’t seem to be under threat—at least as far as we know. But enough research has been done now to show that the fish and shellfish we enjoy are suffering from the omnipresence of this plastic. Every year five million to 14 million tons flow into our oceans from coastal areas. Sunlight, wind, waves, and heat break down that material into smaller bits that look—to plankton, bivalves, fish, and even whales—a lot like food.
Experiments show that microplastics damage aquatic creatures, as well as turtles and birds: They block digestive tracts, diminish the urge to eat, and alter feeding behavior, all of which reduce growth and reproductive output. Their stomachs stuffed with plastic, some species starve and die.
In addition to mechanical effects, microplastics have chemical impacts, because free-floating pollutants that wash off the land and into our seas—such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals—tend to adhere to their surfaces.
Chelsea Rochman, a professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, soaked ground-up polyethylene, which is used to make some types of plastic bags, in San Diego Bay for three months. She then offered this contaminated plastic, along with a laboratory diet, to Japanese medakas, small fish commonly used for research, for two months. The fish that had ingested the treated plastic suffered more liver damage than those that had consumed virgin plastic. (Fish with compromised livers are less able to metabolize drugs, pesticides, and other pollutants.) Another experiment demonstrated that oysters exposed to tiny pieces of polystyrene—the stuff of take-out food containers—produce fewer eggs and less motile sperm.
The list of freshwater and marine organisms that are harmed by plastics stretches to hundreds of species.
IT’S DIFFICULT TO PARSE whether microplastics affect us as individual consumers of seafood, because we’re steeped in this material—from the air we breathe to both the tap and bottled water we drink, the food we eat, and the clothing we wear. Moreover, plastic isn’t one thing. It comes in many forms and contains a wide range of additives—pigments, ultraviolet stabilizers, water repellents, flame retardants, stiffeners such as bisphenol A (BPA), and softeners called phthalates—that can leach into their surroundings.
Some of these chemicals are considered endocrine disruptors—chemicals that interfere with normal hormone function, even contributing to weight gain. Flame retardants may interfere with brain development in fetuses and children; other compounds that cling to plastics can cause cancer or birth defects. A basic tenet of toxicology holds that the dose makes the poison, but many of these chemicals—BPA and its close relatives, for example—appear to impair lab animals at levels some governments consider safe for humans.
Studying the impacts of marine microplastics on human health is challenging because people can’t be asked to eat plastics for experiments, because plastics and their additives act differently depending on physical and chemical contexts, and because their characteristics may change as creatures along the food chain consume, metabolize, or excrete them. We know virtually nothing about how food processing or cooking affects the toxicity of plastics in aquatic organisms or what level of contamination might hurt us.
The good news is that most microplastics studied by scientists seem to remain in the guts of fish and do not move into muscle tissue, which is what we eat. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in a thick report on this subject, concludes that people likely consume only negligible amounts of microplastics—even those who eat a lot of mussels and oysters, which are eaten whole. The agency reminds us, also, that eating fish is good for us: It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and fish contain high levels of nutrients uncommon in other foods.
That said, scientists remain concerned about the human-health impacts of marine plastics because, again, they are ubiquitous and they eventually will degrade and fragment into nanoplastics, which measure less than 100 billionths of a meter—in other words, they are invisible. Alarmingly these tiny plastics can penetrate cells and move into tissues and organs. But because researchers lack analytical methods to identify nanoplastics in food, they don’t have any data on their occurrence or absorption by humans.
And so the work continues. “We know that there are effects from plastics on animals at nearly all levels of biological organization,” Rochman says. “We know enough to act to reduce plastic pollution from entering the oceans, lakes, and rivers.” Nations can enact bans on certain types of plastic, focusing on those that are the most abundant and problematic. Chemical engineers can formulate polymers that biodegrade. Consumers can eschew single-use plastics. And industry and government can invest in infrastructure to capture and recycle these materials before they reach the water.
IN A DUSTY BASEMENT a short distance from the lab where Magadini works, metal shelves hold jars containing roughly 10,000 preserved mummichogs and banded killifish, trapped over seven years in nearby marshes. Examining each fish for the presence of microplastics is a daunting task, but Magadini and her colleagues are keen to see how levels of exposure have changed over time. Others will painstakingly untangle how microbeads, fibers, and fragments affect these forage fish, the larger fish that consume them, and—ultimately—us.
“I think we’ll know the answers in five to 10 years’ time,” Magadini says.
By then at least another 25 million tons of plastic will have flowed into our seas.
To learn more about this National Geographic article and related plastics sustainability issues, or to get involved in LIVES PER POUND and Ocean/Beach Clean Ups – please contact us at: GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gearedforgreen.com
In today’s world 🌎 … Brand Protection is more important than ever! So GearedforGreen provides a number of Certified Destruction, Recycling, Reuse services, based on your specific materials, security level, and sustainability needs.
Our Services include:
• 100% Chain-of-Custody Secure Certified Destruction
• Plastic Packaging-Products Destruction-Recycling-Reuse
• Apparel Destruction-Recycle-Reuse
• End-of-Use Consumer Product Destruction-Recycling
FOR YOUR MOST SENSITIVE MATERIALS, WE PROVIDE END TO END CHAIN-OF-CUSTODY CERTIFIED DESTRUCTION SERVICES
We understand how valuable your brand is. Whether it’s branded product, printed packaging, or sensitive data, in many cases 100% Certified Destruction is imperative.
GearedforGreen provides a comprehensive “iron clad” approach to brand protection, sustainability and certified destruction.
Our COC leg-by-leg process ensures 100% complete security, customizable to each client’s particular needs.
HOW CHAIN OF CUSTODY WORKS
• Each of our eco supply chain certified destruction facilities is governed by strict, industry-leading chain-of-custody procedures.
• Every item we handle for destruction is assigned a unique identifier and tracked at all times during transport and within our facilities.
• Your items are transported in sealed equipment direct from your facility to ours.
• Our certified destruction facilities are equipped to provide maximum security for your items, including in-out scan.
• Certified destruction includes on site shredding or incineration.
• A variety of customizable recycling and eco supply chain options are available for your items after certified destruction.
The end result is total peace of mind security and sustainability!
PLASTIC PACKAGING-PRODUCTS REQUIRING
DESTRUCTION, RECYCLING, REUSE
DRR is a specialized GearedforGreen sustainability service specially created for printed plastic packaging and branded plastic products that require (slightly less) security in terms of COC destruction, and that can be recycled into new sustainable raw materials for reuse back into new products.
In many cases after certified destruction, Printed Plastic Packaging and Branded Plastic Products can be destroyed, cleaned, de-contaminated, remelted and recycled, for use back as sustainable raw materials to make new products again.
Plastic Packaging scrap is among the most challenging to recycle ♻️ mostly because of their coatings, multi layers, and heavy inks and colors. As a result, plastic packaging represents the single largest plastic waste item landfilled today!
GearedforGreen utilizes advanced patented proprietary plastics recycling technologies to help clients reduce or eliminate landfill disposal and instead recycle these plastics in more sustainable circular sustainability initiative.
PLASTIC PACKAGING & PRODUCT
DESTRUCTION, RECYCLING, REUSE PROCESS
• Our eco supply chain destruction-recycling facilities utilize proprietary plastic recycling technologies.
• Our process starts with shredding destruction to ensure brand protection. Clients may inspect destruction and are provided a certificate of destruction.
• Once destruction is complete, shredded plastics are conveyed within our facilities to various recycling processes which may include; size reduction grind, wash, float sink or hydro cyclone separation, De-coat, metal separation, elutriation, blend, extrusion, compound, and final repelletization. Processes are customizable based on material type for each client.
• Recycled pellets are used as new sustainable raw materials in GearedforGreen Closed Loop or Open Loop Circular Supply Chain programs to make a variety of new plastic products.
The end result is total destruction and sustainable raw material reuse.
Branded Apparel Destruction is another specialized GearedforGreen sustainability service specially created for the fashion and textile industries to help manage sensitive destruction and/or reuse or disposal of branded textile products.
Services include COC Chain-of-Custody Certified Destruction, label and tag removal/destruction, shredding, and textile recycling for fabric reuse.
• Each of our eco supply chain certified destruction facilities is governed by strict, industry-leading chain-of-custody procedures.
• Every item we handle is assigned a unique identifier by location and tracked at all times during transport and within our facilities.
• Your items are transported in sealed equipment direct from your facility to ours.
• Our certified destruction facilities are equipped to provide maximum security for your items, including in-out scan requirements.
• Certified destruction includes shredding or incineration.
• A variety of textile recycling and eco supply chain options are available for your items after certified destruction, customizable for each client.
• We provide certified label & tag removal.
• We Recycle shredded textile scrap for reuse into products such as rags, towels, automotive textiles, and more.
END-OF-USE CONSUMER PRODUCT
EOU Consumer Plastic Products Recycling is a specialized GearedforGreen sustainability service created specifically to help plastic manufacturers take responsibility for products they make after consumer use in the market.
Utilizing our eco supply chain national network of private and municipal recycling & collection facilities and other recollection resources, we help design & implement reverse logistics to collect & consolidate your plastics for destruction/recycling.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GEAREDFORGREEN CERTIFIED DESTRUCTION SUPPLY CHAIN SERVICES; CONTACT US @ GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 email@example.com, www.gearedforgreen.com
1. Your Plastics Sustainability Plan suddenly went out the window the 1st time you got Walloped! De-risking is important if you’re building a long term sustainable plastic supply chain…by gearedforgreen April 29, 2018 cardboard box reuse circular supply chain decoating technology eco apparel eco brand marketing eco supply chain gearedforgreen plastic raw materials plastic recycling plastic resins recycling social partnerships sustainable packaging sustainableshopping
When it comes to sustainable plastics initiatives, there are many risks to deal with, from long term repeatable supply of sustainable plastic raw materials – to – consistent long term recycling markets for your own plastic scrap. Starting-stopping-pivoting is challenging. A connected, collaborative and transparent eco supply chain will help mitigate risk so you don’t have to.
Here are some suggestions to help you De-risk.
WHEN IT COMES TO DE-RISKING YOUR RECYCLED PLASTIC RAW MATERIAL SUPPLY CHAIN, WE RECOMMEND DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER FOCUSING ON THESE (3) STRATEGIES
1. Go Direct to De-risk Raw Material Resin Quality & Repeatability
Some resin suppliers are actual resin producers themselves, others are agencies / distributors, each providing unique expertise and resources. Since recycled plastic resins have more challenging quality nuances versus prime resins, it’s important to keep a close watch on repeatable quality. Raw material quality can impact the integrity of your product and more so, the value of your brand. So when it comes to De-risking your Sustainable plastic raw material quality, we highly recommend working direct with your resin producers. It’s more than price per pound! A direct relationship enables you to form close “technical relationships” between resin producer-resin user with mutual site visits and continual improvement processes. You should visit every facility making your recycled plastic resins to see their operations, on site lab, quality control testing regiment, inventory capability, and to meet the floor team first hand. And you should require your resin supplier to also visit your manufacturing operations too, to better understand your products, equipment, internal logistics, and team. Remember.. when using recycled plastic resins, technical relationships really matter! The more your resin producer knows about your specific product, your equipment, your process, your floor personnel.. the better you can both formulate solutions that help lower your total cost of manufacturing and maximize performance.
2. Dig Deeper to trace your Ingredients. That’ll further De-risk Raw Material Quality & Availability
When it comes to using sustainable recycled plastic resins, it’s important to not only know the ingredients used to make your recycled resins, you should also know the entire supply chain used to make your recycled plastic resins. A transparent connected eco supply chain will help De-risk your sustainable raw material supply. Important Questions you should ask your resin supplier… Does the plastic scrap come from consumer or industrial sources? Have you seen the actual plastic scrap prior to recycling, that’s used to make your resins? What contaminates are found in the scrap supply? Is the raw material certified and trackable through the supply chain? Has the carbon footprint been measured to confirm how sustainable the resin actually is? Does it come from one source that may not be reliable long term, from constantly changing sources, or from many sources that are diversified? What if that one source dries up? Is the raw material source dependable long term? What is the relationship between your resin supplier and their sources of plastic scrap? These are among the important questions you need to answer about your resin supplier and their plastic scrap supply chain in order to De-risk your raw material sourcing initiatives.
3. Implement Indexed Pricing to De-risk Price Volatility and Lock-in Relationships
Maintaining long term consistent raw material plastic resin supply is important to both manufacturers and suppliers. However, that gets challenging as market prices fluctuate over time. Establishing a Price Index model that sets prices up and down over market fluctuations can be a great tool to De-risk price volatility. Plastic Resin Manufacturers that buy resins can establish pricing based on indexes such as CMAI. This approach De-risks price fluctuation in case your raw material supplier disproportionately increases pricing? When the supply chain Indexes Together, including the actual sources of plastic scrap… even better!
WHEN IT COMES TO DE-RISKING YOUR PLASTIC RECYCLING INITIATIVES, YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE LONG TERM SECURE MARKETS FOR THE PLASTIC SCRAP THAT MEET YOUR UNIQUE REQUIREMENTS. WE RECOMMEND YOU FOCUS ON THESE (3) STRATEGIES TO DE-RISK YOUR PLASTIC RECYCLING EFFORTS
1. Diversify & Deepen your customer base to De-risk against long term Market bubbles
For those investing money in the stock market, it’s generally a good practice to diversify your portfolio. Same holds true when developing markets for your plastic scrap. By design, it’s a very good idea to have multiple customers supplying into multiple industry sectors, thus diversifying and De-risking your markets. Anyone who’s been involved in plastic recycling for long periods of time knows… plastic scrap markets change, shift, even dry up entirely. Look what recently happened to the China market! Starting a large scale plastic recycling program is hard enough. The last thing you want to worry about is not having available markets to sell the plastic scrap you collect. De-risking against market reliability can be achieved in a couple of ways.
You can develop multiple diversified customers in different markets to buy your scrap, however juggling like that can have its own challenges.
Or you can connect in circular eco supply chains that are transparent and connected by design. Circular eco supply chains are generally Open Loop. In an open loop eco supply chain you sell or supply your plastic scrap to processors within the eco supply chain, the processor converts your plastic scrap into sustainable recycled plastic resin made to each of their customer’s specifications, and the processor sells-supplies their recycled plastic resins to multiple end use manufacturers all within the eco supply chain network. This approach enables companies on both sides to diversify, collaborate on technologies and innovations, gain efficiencies together, and even share reporting through the supply chain. This approach connects sustainability from waste-to-recycle-to-reuse. Participating in an open loop circular supply chain helps diversify markets for your plastic scrap, deepens resources and knowledge, and De-risks everyone involved.
2. Certified Destruction road mapping should be implemented to De-risk against Brand Protection
Regardless of your sustainability goals, for many brands.. ensuring absolute 100% certified destruction, prior to disposal or congruent with recycling, is and should be absolutely essential! Whether it’s your logo on plastic packaging, plastic films and bags, or on overstock or defect merchandise, if your brand and logo is printed on it, the last thing you can afford is to have it front & center in a landfill, or strewn on a street, or washed up on a beach. In a day when your brand is one social media click away from a fire storm, ensuring certified destruction should be a necessary component of your sustainability plan. In order to effectively De-risk against brand protection issues related to waste and recycling, a proper certified destruction program should require a written documented road map diagramming the exact locations and destruction process, transportation, handling and processing of your products, including photo/video back up, a confidentiality agreement, and certified destruction documents signed by all vendors involved in your destruction supply chain. Everyone involved needs to value the importance of protecting your brand, with everyone rowing in the same direction.
3. Toll Reuse Closed Loop Recycling Programs help maintain the value of your plastic scrap & De-risk against Market Volatility
While many plastics manufacturers internally reuse much of their own plastic waste back into their own products, due to contamination issues, many others can’t. That’s partially why 90% of all plastics today wind up in landfills or worse! In many cases plastic products and packaging are printed or coated or multi layered, making internal Closed Loop recycling nearly impossible and making Open Loop markets extremely challenging to0. Knowing how costly it was buying your prime virgin plastic resins at the start, having to landfill these kinds of plastic waste materials isn’t just environmentally costly… its economically costly too. At 3%-8% manufacturing waste + disposal cost, whether it’s PET, PP, PS, PE, or other plastic materials, that adds up big time! To De-risk against costly landfilling of challenging plastic waste materials, we recommend connecting in more “specialized eco supply chains” that utilize specialized custom developed niche equipment, recycling technologies, and that offer back up alternative Open Loop markets in case Close Loop isn’t a sole option. We develop these programs for clients all the time. Using specialized technologies to remove challenging contamination enables you to more effectively reuse your own plastic waste back into your own products, preserving value and ensuring maximum sustainability. As example, if your generating PET or PP printed coated packaging scrap and can’t reuse your own scrap, you can utilize specialty processors that can remove the print and coatings off your PET & PP and return back these materials in clear near virgin quality, ready to be reused Closed Loop.
FOR FURTHER GUIDANCE & RESOURCES TO DE-RISK YOUR PLASTICS SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES, PLEASE CONTACT US AT: GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gearedforgreen.com