In a world grappling with the environmental consequences of excessive waste generation for economic gain, a new phenomenon is gaining ground – eco-wakening.
The new-age eco-woke consumers of today believe that there is a reason for brands to exist beyond just business and consciously look for companies that are embracing sustainability. This is witnessed by the fact that Google searches for ‘sustainable goods’ reportedly grew by 71% between 2016 & 2020.
In efforts to meet consumer demand for environmental responsibility, brands are actively looking for solutions that can reduce their environmental impact and help them become sustainable.
To help them do just that, a novel concept is proving to be effective – plastic neutrality. Plastic neutrality is where brands recycle an equivalent amount of plastic waste they generate, through impact recovery projects.
This blog delves into plastic neutrality and the process to achieve it while comparing it with other environmental concepts like carbon neutrality and net zero.
Plastic neutrality and plastic free are two separate approaches to address the environmental issues related to plastic waste. Plastic neutrality means that while the brand still uses plastic materials as part of its operations, it is also taking positive action to negate its environmental impact.
Plastic-free is a direct approach that aims to eliminate the use of plastic materials in any business operation. The ultimate goal is to reduce plastic waste generation at source and minimise its environmental impact.
While both strategies are linked to reducing the effects of the brand’s plastic usage, plastic-free addresses the matter at the grassroots. Therefore, plastic neutral brands cannot claim they are plastic-free.
Plastic Neutrality and Carbon Neutrality are similar concepts for environmental sustainability, addressing different environmental concerns.
Plastic Neutrality aims to balance the amount of plastic generated by recovering & recycling an equal amount of plastic waste. This is mostly done by brands that use plastic for packaging or production.
Contrarily, carbon neutrality focuses on balancing carbon emissions released by burning fossil fuels in industrial activities like power generation & manufacturing by offsetting them through carbon sequestration or renewable energy projects.
Plastic neutrality and net zero are two of the top buzzwords in sustainability but differ in their approach and scope.
Plastic neutrality targets plastic waste and the negative repercussions of plastic waste pollution, thus promoting waste management initiatives to offset a brand’s plastic consumption.
Net Zero aims to achieve a state where all the greenhouse emissions generated are entirely offset. Global brands like Apple, Microsoft & Google have committed to becoming net zero by 2050.
The beauty of Plastic Neutrality lies in its adaptability to companies of all sizes and industries. Whether you’re a small local brand, a multinational FMCG, or an e-commerce giant, you can embrace plastic neutrality to take responsibility for your plastic footprint.
While smaller brands may find it easier to implement plastic neutrality due to their relatively smaller scale, larger brands may face more complex challenges due to their extensive supply chains and larger plastic footprints.
However, with dedication and collaboration, larger brands can work towards plastic neutrality by setting ambitious goals and implementing sustainable practices.
Becoming plastic neutral has a significant impact both on brands and the environment. Here are some of the ways brands can create an impact by adopting plastic neutrality:
By going plastic neutral, brands contribute to preventing plastic waste from entering the environment. This helps preserve natural habitats and protects wildlife from the harmful effects of plastic pollution.
Embracing plastic neutrality demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible business practices. This can enhance a brand’s reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, investors, and stakeholders.
Consumer Loyalty and Engagement
New-age consumers are concerned about the impact of their purchase decisions on the environment. Plastic neutral brands can attract and retain eco-woke customers more likely to support and remain loyal to responsible businesses.
Inspiring Industry Change
Brands can set an example for their industry and encourage others to follow suit, leading to a collective effort to combat plastic pollution and promote more sustainable practices across various sectors.
Becoming a plastic neutral brand involves steps that require commitment, collaboration, and tangible actions. Here’s an outline of the process:
Plastic Footprint Assessment
The first step for any brand aspiring to become plastic neutral is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of its plastic consumption throughout its supply chain. This includes quantifying the amount of plastic used in manufacturing, packaging, transportation, and any other relevant processes.
Planning an Offsetting Strategy
Once the assessment is complete, the brand must devise an effective strategy for balancing its plastic footprint. It can collaborate with reputed organisations like Recykal that offer plastic neutrality services.
Balancing the Footprint
During this stage, the brand has to fund and support the recovery, processing & recycling of additional plastic waste in the environment or projects focussed on preventing plastic waste from entering the oceans.
Certification and Communication
The brand then receives the certificate of plastic neutrality from the offsetting organisation for its efforts and is recognised as plastic neutral. Communicating these efforts transparently to customers or stakeholders is essential for building trust and awareness.
Plastic neutrality is a powerful and promising initiative that empowers businesses to address the escalating plastic pollution crisis. By offsetting their plastic consumption through responsible waste management and recycling projects, brands can play a significant role in dealing with plastic pollution.
To aid businesses in balancing their footprint and achieving plastic neutrality, organisations like Recykal are playing the role of enablers through effective and traceable plastic recovery projects.
However, it is essential to recognise that while plastic neutrality is a significant step in the right direction for businesses, it is not enough to address the root cause.
Brands thus require a multi-pronged approach to reduce their plastic footprint, using strategies like reduced consumption, redesigning products & packaging, and investing in innovation for sustainable solutions.
This can help them make a more significant & lasting impact on the environment and pave the way for a sustainable future.