This plastic drinks bottle is made from plants

plastic pollution Yu

(Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Plastic has transformed many aspects of daily life, from keeping food fresh to ensuring medical supplies stay sterile.

But in recent years it has become public enemy number one – almost entirely because of the way it is dealt with after it has been used. Buried in landfill, it will stay there for hundreds of years. It releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere if incinerated. And far too much ends up in the world’s oceans.

Stemming the tide of plastic pollution calls for a combination of measures. One of which will be finding alternatives to some of the commonest uses of traditional plastic, such as the drinks bottle – something two of the giants of the global beverage world are taking steps to do.

At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China, this July, Shell Huang Xiaoyan, Vice-President, Research and Development, Asia at Coca-Cola showed off one of the company’s new plant-based plastic alternatives. She described developing the PlantBottle as the “biggest honour” in her career.

It’s a 100% recyclable material, and since its initial launch in 2009 it has helped Coca-Cola reduce its emissions by the equivalent of one million vehicles. Now, the company has opened the bottle’s patent to the public so other developers and manufacturers can use it.

Plastic

What is the World Economic Forum doing about ending plastic pollution?

More than 90% of plastic is never recycled, and a whopping 8 million metric tons of plastic waste are dumped into the oceans annually. At this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.

The World Economic Forum has played a crucial role in connecting TerraCycle, a global waste management and recycling company, with logistics giant UPS and some of the world’s leading retailers and consumer goods companies (including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Carrefour, Tesco, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Danone, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever) to develop and pilot a revolutionary zero-waste e-commerce system called Loop.

Loop promotes responsible consumption and eliminates waste by introducing a new way for consumers to purchase, enjoy and recycle their favorite products. Instead of relying on single-use packaging, it delivers products to consumers’ doorsteps in durable packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused, sometimes more than 100 times.

The Forum is helping the Loop Alliance bring the Loop model to cities around the world. Read more in our Impact Story.

Partner with us and join the global mission to end plastic pollution.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo – that other giant of the food and beverage world – is also making headway in rethinking its packaging materials.

Its Aquafina water brand will be available in aluminium cans, rather than plastic bottles. Lifewtr will be packaged in recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) and Bubly sparkling water will no longer be packaged in plastic at all.

 

The company also has a series of sustainable packaging goals it hopes to hit by 2025, including designing all of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s advances aren’t the only examples of new materials that offer potentially more environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional packaging.

There are straws made from seaweed, bags that dissolve in water, and a film made from crab shells and cellulose that its makers say can outperform plastic at keeping food fresh.

Tackling the problem of plastic pollution, though, will also need a series of joined-up interventions, while accepting that it continues to play a vital role in 21st-century life.

That’s likely to call for grassroots clean-up campaigns, better and more consistent recycling infrastructure and policies, and a reduced reliance on single-use plastic in all but essential cases.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Obesity rates soar due to dramatic global diet shift, says UN food agency

Which countries get the most sleep – and how much do we really need?

EU mobilises emergency assistance following floods in Ukraine

Change is happening – and young people are leading the way forward

Women must have an equal share in politics, say MEPs and national MPs

Making the move to more sustainable mobility – three steps for companies

How Europe’s science offers hope in tackling the climate emergency

The EU Commission by serving the banks offers poor support to European mainstream political parties

Creating shared value: an opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurship

May led Britain to chaos, now looks for way out with unpredictable DUP

Why maps matter in our response to COVID-19

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

American negotiators can’t pay for their trip to Brussels, EU-US trade agreement freezes

We need to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. This is how we can do it

The Commission calls for a climate neutral Europe by 2050*

Negotiations on new EU collective redress rules to begin

How to unleash the enormous power of global healthcare data

EYE to kick off on Friday: 8000+ young people discussing the future of Europe 1 – 2 June

On Kristallnacht anniversary, UN chief urges renewed fight against ‘crime’ of anti-Semitism

At last Britain considers a super-soft Brexit

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe must be more ambitious in COP21 and lead on climate finance and sustainable development”, Green UK MEP Jean Lambert points out from Brussels

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

This simple solution might help with one of the biggest challenges of working from home

Consumer protection: Commission revises EU rules on product safety and consumer credit

Libya’s migrants and refugees with tuberculosis ‘left to die’ in detention centres

How Europe’s green tech ‘scale-ups’ can help tackle climate change

Eurozone’s credibility rock solid

Coronavirus: Commission unveils EU vaccines strategy

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey and so is Erdogan

This is why attractive cities do better economically

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

UN chief seeking ‘renewed commitment’ to global rules and values, as world leaders head to New York

EU founding values: Commission starts legal action against Hungary and Poland for violations of fundamental rights of LGBTIQ people

This wristband tells you what food to buy based on your DNA

Disillusioned young people – France thinks it has a solution

New El Salvador law, a victory for forced displacement victims: UN refugee agency

Look no hands: self-driving vehicles’ public trust problem

GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa: Rise of the Digital Citizen, Kigali 16 – 18 July 2019, in association with The European Sting

Is there a way out of the next financial crisis? Can more printed money or austerity save us all?

Do we really understand the value of independent journalism?

The EU bows to Turkey in view of the talks for a political settlement in Syria

Syria: Why did the US-Russia brokered ceasefire collapse? What does the duo care for?

Coronavirus in Brazil: mental health in tragedy

The technologies – and thoughtful collaborations – that can build resilience in the food system after COVID-19

Union of Equality: European Commission presents Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030

Politics is failing to protect the Amazon. It’s time for finance to step up instead

To save biodiversity, MEPs call for binding targets at global and EU level

Visa-free access to the EU for UK nationals and to the UK for EU nationals

Teenagers’ career expectations narrowing to limited range of jobs, OECD PISA report finds

The new era of Matriarchy?

EU solidarity in action: Commission proposes €86.7 million for the recent natural disasters in France and Greece

African cities will double in population by 2050. Here are 4 ways to make sure they thrive

How to stay in shape and step up support for refugees

Elections in Britain may reserve a surprise for May’s Tories

19th EU-China Summit: A historical advance in the Chino-European rapprochement

International community urged to deliver on promise for better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

What is blockchain and what can it do?

The world needs a grand coalition to tackle climate change

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s