In the last few weeks, a lot of major corporations announced intentions to ban single use plastic, and pledged to phase it out of its operations. And surprisingly, this has come from many different industries and company types, even those where plastic is not a material part of the business. This article summarises as many of the recent announcements as I could find: 11.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (Unilever) – plastic spoons and straws
Last week, Environmental Leader reported that the ethical ice creamery was banning the single-use plastic spoons and straws from its retail stores. The ban will start rolling out this year, until all its 600-something shops will be changed. Globally, 30 million spoons and 2.5 million straws are consumed by Ben & Jerry’s stores.
Goldman Sachs – all throw-away plastic items
Also last week, Reuters shared that the financial institution will immediately begin cutting out plastic bottles and plastic cutlery. In its place would go aluminium, glass, or compostable equivalents. In doing so, it estimates saving 6 tons of plastic from going to landfill.
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Limited – plastic bottles, packaging, and bathroom amenities
The same article briefly mentioned this as one example to demonstrate a growing movement against single use plastic. I am hoping this article I am writing now is a much longer list!
9 Singaporean companies including AccorHotels Group, Hilton Singapore, Ramada and Days Hotel by Wyndham Singapore – as part of the WWF Singapore Plastic ACTion commitment (PACT) – “a 100 per cent phase-out of all unrecyclable single-use plastic and a transition to reusable or recyclable product and packaging by 2020“
In Eco-Business last week, nine companies signed to a WWF Singapore initiative which committed them phasing out single-use plastics by 2020.
Samsung – plastic packaging
In Environmental Leader last week, the South Korean giant announced it will immediately begin transitioning from plastic to more sustainable materials for its packaging. Its ambition is to “use 500,000 tons of recycled plastics and collect 7.5 million tons of discarded products (both cumulative from 2009)” by 2030.
KFC – single use plastic packaging
Environmental Leader reported that KFC is undertaking a global transition from single use to reusable or recoverable plastic from now until 2025. The company is looking at all the usual suspects like straws, bags, cutlery, and cup lids.
Taco Bell – recycled plastic cup lids
The same article also referenced a similar initiative by Taco Bell, part of the same parent company as KFC (Yum! Brands), to achieve 100% recyclable plastic cups by 2021.
Nestle – plastic packaging
From yet another article sourced from Environmental Leader, Nestle plans to eliminate single use plastic from all 4200 of its worldwide production facilities. As part of this major initiative, the material for straws would change to paper starting this year, and products like Nesquik and Smarties would get plastic free packaging by the end of this year. These initiatives fall under the banner of the company’s broader goal to have 100 percent recyclable or reusable plastic packaging by 2025. The same goal as KFC.
Being such a high profile company, the news was also covered by Reuters.
Marks & Spencer – plastic free fruits and vegetables
The Guardian reported in mid-January that the supermarket chain will stop packaging its fruits and vegetables in plastic. Instead, the items will be loose and storable in paper bags. In addition, other upcoming initiatives were promised: cutlery and straws, but also less conventional items like plastic barcodes. Quoting Louise Nicholls, head of food sustainability, the drivers are customer based:
We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025.
11 examples, so what?
11 examples in one month; one can only wonder how many will come through across the whole of 2019! The bottom line here is that plastic is over, the world is moving forward. If it is not in your employer’s plans to ditch plastic, the maybe it is time to start thinking about it.