Coffee Shop Innovation Expo logo

19 & 20 OCT 2022

ExCeL LONDON

Unpacking Our Future: Recycling is not the answer!

Plastic was a fantastic invention… a cheap, flexible, and durable material that can be used for every packaging need you can imagine.

Plastic is great… It is how we use it that is despicable.

Think about it, the plastic packaging that we mindlessly rip off our clothes and food, that we then throw straight into the bin. 

Essentially seconds of use, to then remain in our natural world for a thousand years, choking and killing countless creatures, breaking down into smaller and more toxic pieces leaving everlasting effects on our mother earth.

However, the world is finally seeming to change for the better. 

Companies around the globe are understanding the value of eco-friendly packaging, whether it is genuinely for our mother’s benefit… or just their own brand awareness, it doesn’t really matter.

Plastic pollution and sustainability were at the forefront of media conversations around the world in 2019.

Then we all got a bit distracted by a little pandemic…

Now that we’re finally beginning to come out the other end of that dark, dark covid tunnel, the conversation’s focus can move back on to saving the natural world.

20 Years ago, we were told that if we just recycle… we can save the planet!

So surely if companies just make their packaging recyclable… our oceans will be safe? 

NOPE!

Did you know that in 2019, according to the British Plastics Federation, the UK exported 61% of their recycling to developing countries like Indonesia to deal with? 

Here it is just incinerated, releasing unfathomable amounts of toxic pollutants into the air, or it’s just dumped into the ocean…

Not to mention that barely anyone recycles! 

When I lived in London I remember walking down my street in Brixton on bin day, having a little nosey into people’s recycling bins to see if they were doing it right. Every single bin I checked had contaminated recycling…

This is either because people just couldn’t care less, or they’re confused about what they can and cannot recycle.

I’ve done a lot of research into it… and I still get confused!

Recycling is not the answer.

Neither is “biodegradable” packaging.

Large corporate companies are expert spin doctors and illusionists, they say they’re doing one thing when in fact they are doing something else.

Over 20 years ago “biodegradable” plastic bags were introduced at supermarkets… when people heard that their plastic bags are now biodegradable… they no longer had any guilt in using as much plastic as possible.

After all, it’s going to biodegrade, so what’s the issue?

Well, an experiment was done on these so-called biodegradable plastic bags by the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research Unit. 

They placed normal plastic bags, biodegradable plastic bags and compostable bags in the sea and soil for 3 years.

They found that at the end of the experiment, the compostable bag had fully disintegrated in the sea in only 3 months… but the biodegradable bags were still very much intact and still able to carry shopping.

So, when we label something as biodegradable when it is in fact not… it is more damaging to the environment, because people’s mentality towards it becomes completely blasé. 

They’re happy to use it in excess and throw it away without thought or remorse, because they’ve been told it is “biodegradable”… so who can blame them.

This is greenwashing at its finest.

The new buzz words, green washing. Companies make it seem as if they’re making moves towards sustainability, with some nice new green packaging, when in fact, they are not making any real, measurable, and impactful differences.

So, what is the solution?

In my opinion, we only have 2 fully sustainable packaging options.

Fully compostable or reusable packaging.

Reusable packaging sounds fantastic, shifting our mindset from single use, to using things forever. Like reusable bottles people are carrying around more and more.

Burger king are trialling their first reusable coffee cup, that once you’ve used you can return.

This is a great step in the right direction; however, it has its drawbacks.

First, it is more expensive for the company and therefore the customer, which will inevitably turn most people off. 

However, the financial incentive of getting your money back when returning the cup is great, but also allowing people to refill their cup with coffee if they bring it back to the store for a reduced rate than normal is also a fantastic incentive and a step in the right direction for sustainability.

Another downside, with the type of hard plastic used, if people were to dispose of their cup, which again, a portion of people will, then it is possibly even more damaging to the environment than typical flimsy coffee cups.

So then, should we make all packaging compostable?

That would be great, but again, companies are not divesting all the information.

There are 2 different types of compostable packaging, packaging that can compost in your garden under natural conditions, and packaging that can only compost in industrial composters that reach high temperatures…. which most people don’t have at home.

Another issue is, a lot of people won’t compost at home, they will just throw the packaging into general waste which will reach landfill. 

With organic materials in landfill, they do not biodegrade properly and release methane when doing so, which is even more harmful for the environment than Co2.

So fully sustainable packaging is a bit of a confusing minefield, it is difficult to tell both corporations and consumers what is the best thing to do.

For you corporations, the important thing is that you are taking steps to become genuinely responsible in your sustainable packaging and not just to be ‘seen’ as being sustainable.

You have 2 options, reusable packaging, and genuinely compostable packaging that people can throw in their garden and will disappear in a few months or years without any toxic consequences.

At Rejuvenatur, we only provide these 2 options.

From our reusable silicone lids eliminating the need for cling film, to our bamboo and wheat straws… meaning no more crap paper straws!

Not to mention we partner with a sourcing agency to ensure we get these eco products as cheaply as possible, where before, sustainable options came with a hefty price tag, fortunately, that no longer needs to be the case.

So, there is no excuse.

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