Industry-led solutions to the problem of plastic

What is the industry doing about the problem of plastic?

Strohhalme, Trinken, Erfrischung, Bunte, Farbe

Below are several examples of companies who are leading the way:

Ikea

is trying to replace oil-based plastic with bioplastic. Thus far, they have produced a new sandwich bag, made of 85% renewable material (primarily from sugar-cane).

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/this-is-ikea/sustainable-everyday/istad-a-pioneering-goody-bag-pubb724aa6a

Furthermore, Ikea’s goal is to use only renewable or recyclable plastic in their home furnishing products. Despite the additional costs for production, Ikea wants to keep the costs of their new products low while maintaining a comparable quality.

McDonalds

has exchanged their plastic straws for paper or biodegradable materials made out of corn starch. Plastic cups are replaced by paper cups and plastic cutlery by wooden cutlery. Some of the food packaging is made out of grass.

https://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/food-entertainment/food-services/mcdonalds-goes-green-replaces-plastic-with-biodegradable-alternatives/64695612

Coca-Cola

aims at producing all their bottles and cans with at least 50% from recycled material by 2030.  The company has already invented a ‘Hybrid Bottle’ made out of 50% plant-based plastic and 50% recycled PET. According to Coca-Cola, this bottle is fully recyclable.

Despite these improvements, the use of recycled plastic means that microplastics can still enter the environment. https://bioplasticsnews.com/2019/08/15/coca-cola-goes-bioplastics  

LEGO

invested at least $150 million for research and development of bioplastic. So far, LEGO has tested 250 combinations of materials. Just recently they developed LEGO bricks made from recycled plastic bottles. Only 2% of their materials are made out of bioplastics (2019).

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/jun/23/lego-develops-first-bricks-made-of-recycled-plastic-bottles

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lego-struggles-to-find-a-plant-based-plastic-that-clicks-11560331800

LEGOs goal is to produce all LEGO materials using bioplastic by 2030.

https://www.awesomeinventions.com/lego-bioplastic-collection-sourced-from-sugarcane  

 

It’s encouraging to see the larger companies being creative and investing resources into saving the environment. Awareness of the problem is growing. Smaller companies are also making an effort, like ice-cream shops using edible straws in their ice coffees. But there needs to be a lot more changes. Is the growing awareness and the changes too little, too late?

Where have you seen plastic being replaced with renewable material? What was your experience with it?

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matthew.mcintosh@mikro.bio.uni-giessen.de

Tel.: +49 (0)641 99-35557