Businesses that manufacture, import and sell products need to be responsible for the waste they generate. They need to be accountable for their products beyond selling them and change their manufacturing process “to design out waste and keep products and materials in use”. Businesses need to use less plastic and stop producing single-use items. This shift in responsibility and accountability from consumer to business also entails recognizing the Circular Economy.
Currently, Coca-Cola is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste. In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic. Nestlé is third in the list of top plastic polluters globally as 98% of their products are sold in single-use packaging. There are hundreds of multinational brands contributing to plastic pollution across the globe.
Did you know that seventy-nine percent of the world’s plastic is not recycled? Our consumption of packaging and single-use items has a real impact on climate change: just under 30 percent of our greenhouse gases come from the way we make, consume, and dispose of stuff. We know that compostables don’t outshine plastics when it comes to environmental benefits, and biodegradable packaging is even worse. We are overwhelmed with the quantity of waste we cannot process. Our single-use culture needs to change and the solution is not in recycling.
We need a solution that will have a positive impact on the environment and mitigate climate change. Tell Us Yours! One strategy is a program called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EPR’s push the manufacturers and retailers to contribute to the cost of collecting and reusing their products. Businesses can introduce take-back programs or arrange waste collection and drop-off points, so the products can be re-purposed and re-introduced for another manufacturing process.
Adopting the Circular Economy model, we can design stuff better to last longer; food chains and toy makers can make better quality goods; producers can use fewer raw materials; waste can be made a resource; excess can be discouraged in schools and homes; we can shop hyper-locally and at secondhand shops, where, in an ecologically literate world, should be seen as pioneers of a new kind of socially aware consumerism.
Vancouver has a plastic ban bylaw and a single-use-item reduction strategy as action to support their Zero-Waste 2040 Goal. Over the next year we will see changes in the food industry as we ban styrofoam, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags. These are great steps and we need to do more.
Let’s work towards a circular economic model and invest and shop locally, avoid buying products from the plastic polluters and advocate for increased manufacturer responsibility to avoid waste.