The early months of 2018 have been characterised by a host of headline announcements all geared towards tackling the problem of plastic pollution. Driven by the Blue Planet television series, consumers are demanding action to reduce use of “avoidable” plastics and brands of all shapes and sizes are responding.

Whether it’s a ban on plastic strawsnor long-term commitments to eradicate plastic use, business is standing up to the challenge. This week is no different, with a host of companies, start-ups and research organisations all looking towards new solutions.

This week, edie brings brand new updates on various solutions to the plastic problem, whether they be material-based, educational or awareness schemes. Enjoy.

Aisles of Amsterdam

Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza has done in a week what Theresa May hopes to do over a 25-year period. The company has modified an Amsterdam store to enable shoppers to choose from more than 700 plastic-free products, all of which will be available in one aisle.

Theresa May wants supermarkets in the UK to create plastic free aisles as part of the 25-Year Environment plan, but that vision is already a reality for Ekoplaza. Products ranging from rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat will all be offered down a single, plastic-free aisle.

The aisle will be unique to the Amsterdam branch of Ekoplaza, but the company has announced that similar aisles will be rolled out across all of its 74 branches by the end of 2018. Here’s hoping the UK retailers take notice and act.

Fresh Prince of plastics

Nothing stirs up public awareness quite like a celebrity endorsement. But for Will and Jaden Smith their venture into the battle on plastics is built on a sincere desire to protect marine environments. Jaden Smith’s awareness of the plastic issue derives from his passion for surfing, and his company, Just, is now leveraging his father’s star power to drive awareness further.

Just makes environmentally-friendly water bottles from renewable sources such as bio-plastics derived from sugarcane. The company was officially launched back in 2015, but this week has seen Will and Jaden publicly discuss the company and its business purpose.

According to the Smith’s, long-term goals of the Just brand include educating youth on the plastics problem as well as creating classroom items and furniture from second-hand plastic water bottles, keeping them out of landfill and oceans as a result.

Race for wisdom                  

A big part of the plastics problem is consumer awareness; the public needs to understand the role they can play in recycling plastics. For developing nations, where infrastructure is less developed, educational awareness can still be an issue.

Race for Water, otherwise known as the world’s largest solar-powered boat, is attempting to educate people across the globe on plastic pollution. Using solar, hydrogen and wind, the boat – which was featured heavily at COP21 in Paris – is part way through a five-year journey across the globe.

The boat is attempting to raise awareness on marine stewardship, which heavily focuses on plastics. This week, the vessel arrived in Panama City as part of scheduled stops across the Caribbean, including Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe. More than 1,500 children have gained access to teachings and lessons to prevent plastic pollution as a result.

Public-approved plastics

Raising awareness at a consumer level is great, but it’s a case of treating the symptoms rather than the cause. New infrastructure is needed to tackle plastics, and one company made big strides this week. Recycling Technologies launched a crowdfunding page last Friday to raise £1.2m. As of today (2 March), the firm has raised £1.8m in public investment.

Recycling Technologies has a recycling plant in Swindon that uses modular technology to convert plastic waste back into oil, which can then be used to create new plastics. Due to the chemical nature of the recycling process, the system can recycle plastics currently considered unrecyclable such as plastic film, laminated food pouches and crisp packets and even black plastics.

These types of plastics are currently incinerated or sent to landfill, at a cost of £90-£130 per tonne. Recycling Technologies can convert the waste into Plaxx, which the company claims has a value of £300 per tonne. The firm wants to build capacity to recycle 10 million tonnes annually.

Seaweeding through solutions

Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr. Licence:

Amongst the plethora of new plastic pledges this week was the announcement from Just Eat, which claimed that the online retailer has stopped selling all single-use plastic items in its shop. In order to replace plastics used in packaging, Just Eat is turning to innovation for solutions.

The company has committed to establishing an innovation platform that will invest in the research and development of new packaging solutions. The first initiative will see Just Eat partner with Skipping Rocks Lab to trial seaweed-based sauce sachets with restaurant partners. The sachets are edible or can decompose within six weeks.

It forms part of a collaboration between Just Eat and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The two organisations are building on an existing partnership that will help Just Eat’s network of restaurant owners operate more sustainably from now on.

Green bottles sitting on a wall

Earlier this week, Britain’s oldest water brand, Harrogate Water, stepped up its plastic efforts with the announcement that all products will contain 50% recycled plastic content from April 2018.

All materials used by Harrogate are recyclable and the company runs zero-waste-to-landfill operations. Harrogate has previously worked with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to raise consumer awareness around recycling PET plastic bottles. However, the company wanted to ensure that its products would have easy access to a second life.

Harrogate confirmed it has secured sufficient availability of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which it says is one of the “best examples” of easily-recyclable packaging, producing fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and using less energy in the manufacturing process.

Innovation centre at edie Live

From carbon-eliminating solutions to fresh ideas to drive resource efficiency, the Innovation Centre will showcase the pre-commercial solutions and ideas that could disrupt entire markets and take corporate sustainability to a new level. It will also feature some of the best innovations covered in in 2017.

If you have an innovation you’re interested in displaying, click here. To register for edie Live, click here.

Matt Mace

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