Article 1 – this is the first of a three-part blog series that focuses on innovation, conserving the environment and helping reduce plastic waste.
Each year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic waste is thrown into the ocean, and that number is projected to increase. While plastic has played a huge role in the development of millions of products (cell phones, storage containers, you name it), now there is so much of it that, unfortunately, some of it ends up in the ocean. This causes environmental problems and is harmful to animals and organisms who call these waters “home”.
It is said that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (in weight). There are many environmental initiatives that companies have taken recently to help clean up existing ocean plastic and reduce more plastic build-up, but the challenge still remains: what do we do with all this plastic?
There is hope! Many companies have found innovative ways to take plastic and turn it into functional and useful products. Here are 10 companies that have gone outside of the box (and even into the ocean), and are repurposing plastic into new and creative products and encouraging others to recycle and reduce.
10 Innovative Companies Repurposing Plastic into Products
Bureo is based in Ventura, California and is on a mission to protect the oceans by eliminating fishing net pollution through manufacturing products like skateboards, clothing and sunglasses from fish nets sourced from over 50 fisheries in South America. Bureo also partners with numerous companies, like Patagonia®, to incorporate their material made from recycled fishnets into their products. Since 2013 over 800,000 lbs of fish nets have been recycled. The frisbee pictured above is made from 80% recycled fishnet content.
Norton Point was founded in 2015 and aimed to make sustainable sunglasses from ocean plastics and other plant-based materials. Most of the ocean plastic used comes from the canals and coastlines of Haiti and 5% of their net profits are donated to global clean-up efforts, education and R&D.
Adidas teamed up with Parley to create a line of high-performance sportswear that turns “the threat into a thread”. These threads are used in numerous clothing and shoe styles and is collected on coastlines, remote islands and coastal communities. This helps raise awareness as well as funds education and eco-innovation initiatives to find long-term solutions to marine plastic pollution.
Swaggr wanted to find a way to create comfortable and high-performance socks without adding to the already growing problem of non-organic fiber usage. Their socks are made from up to 91% recycled plastic bottles with the vision to conserve and create a cleaner ocean. Plastic bottles are collected from coastlines, flaked and converted into beads. The beads are then melted into synthetic fibers which are woven into a plastic-based yarn.
American Express announced in June 2017 that they planned to launch the first-ever credit card manufactured from primarily ocean plastic. They also teamed up with Parley and have committed to a strategy to reduce virgin plastic use on their card products, phase out single-use straws and coffee stir sticks in major airport lounges, get a zero waste certification in the NYC headquarters in the next 5 years and engage in annual company-run coastal and river cleanups.
Washed Ashore Project is a non-profit organization founded by Angela Haseltine Pozzi. She first noticed enormous amounts of plastic and debris on shores of southern Oregon, where she lived and was motivated to do something about it. This organization creates powerful and beautiful art sculptures made from plastic found on beaches and coastlines and teaches about environmental conservation and sustainability. The traveling exhibits help raise awareness and are often found outside zoos and aquariums.
Tesco is a Supermarket chain from the UK and has over 7,000 stores around the world. They have taken on a sustainability effort to make a difference in the social and environmental challenges that matter to the community. One way they are making a difference is by positioning reverse vending machines in 10 stores on a trial basis. The reverse vending machine collects plastic bottles and gives customers money in exchange. The bottles are then sent to recycling centers. This helps raise awareness about the importance of recycling. In addition, Tesco is committed to a closed-loop packaging system.
TerraCycle is “eliminating the idea of waste” by partnering with individuals, product companies, municipalities and small businesses across 20 different countries. TerraCycle provides the “Zero Waste Box” that can be purchased directly from TerraCycle or from participating retailers. This program allows you to recycle almost any type of waste, which may otherwise go into landfills or be incinerated. It’s a simple way to recycle products that may be cumbersome or difficult to transport. Just purchase the right-sized box for your intended waste, put the waste in the box and send it to TerraCycle to be repurposed. Bonus: shipping is included!
Fair Harbor takes recycled plastic bottles and makes fashionable men and women’s swimwear. It was founded by sibling entrepreneurs in 2014. The men’s suits use 80% recycled plastic bottles, and women’s suits are made of 88% recycled plastic bottles from post-consumer recyclables.
Bedford Technology takes both post-consumer and post-industrial HDPE recyclables and engineers them into structural and durable building materials that are a heavy-duty wood-alternative. The plastic lumber is manufactured into 7 product lines, each with unique performance characteristics, that are best-suited for commercial applications in numerous markets including marine, landscaping, fencing and industrial manufacturing. The plastic lumber materials are sustainable, durable and environmentally-friendly. Over the last 20 years, Bedford Technology has helped keep hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic out of landfills and continues to reduce plastic build-up.
Let’s Keep Reducing Plastic Waste Together!
How is your company involved in helping reduce plastic build-up? Comment below and let us know!
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