Plastic is the current super villain in the global sustainability war. And people are sitting up and starting to take action.

  • Just a few weeks ago, France announced plans to set penalties on products packaged in non-recyclable plastic – a huge move in the fight to reduce single use plastic
  • Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic countrywide by 2022. This has been kicked off with an immediate ban in urban Delhi
  • Morocco was the second highest largest plastic bag consumer, behind the United States. Well, not anymore. The government has now banned plastic bags of all types, focusing not just on the use of plastic bags, but also the presence and productions of bags in Morocco

In the face of any great challenge, comes infinite opportunities for innovation to overcome it. Global sustainability and the ‘Plastic Crisis’ is no different. At the start of the year, we wrote about five amazing companies taking an innovative approach to waste. We thought it was time to revisit what the world has been doing to vanquish the plastic villian!

Lego has recently launched their first sustainable Lego pieces, made from plant-based plastic. Sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? But they’ve done it! These new sustainable pieces will be included in packs from this year, so keep an eye out.

Lego’s first sustainable, plant-based pieces go on sale this year. Credit: The Guardian

Thirsty? Here’s a bubble filled with water for you to eat. The clear, tasteless membrane is actually made out of seaweed. Intrigued? So were we! Skipping Rocks Lab raised £850,000 for their edible Ooho! product in only 72 hours, blowing their initial target of £400,000 out of the water (pun intended!)

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s an edible bubble of water! Credit: Skipping Rocks Lab

Did you know that there is an emerging category for products made from recycled waste products and it is gaining popularity and diversity. Ecoalf collects plastic waste from the Mediterranean Sea and uses it to make shoes. One pair of Shao trainers is made from five plastic bottles…..and a little bit of algae.

The amazing Shao sneaker – comfortable, flexible and good for the environment. Credit: Dezeen

There’s been a big focus on plastic bags and packaging, but plastic cutlery is also a major contributor to the global plastic waste crisis. Bakey’s is an Indian company producing edible cutlery made from millet, rice and wheat flours. So once you’ve finished your meal, you can now eat your cutlery for dessert.

Bakey’s edible cutlery is functional, nutritious and sustainable. Would you eat your spoon? Credit: Kickstarter

Ok, this is more research news than company news, but…IT’S A BIG DEAL! Scientists discovered a bacterium that has naturally evolved to eat plastic back in 2016. Recently, they’ve been fiddling with the enzyme responsible to try better understand how it evolved and accidentally made it better at breaking down PET (the plastic that soft drink bottles are made out of). Rock on, scientists!

Hungry? A plastic-eating enzyme could change the tide in the global plastic war. Credit: David Jones

The Plastic Crisis is not a new problem, and the path to dealing with it is fraught with complexity, politics, technological challenges and a general indecisiveness on how to solve this dilemma we ourselves created. There are those who have already thrown in the towel, claiming that actions being taken now are too little, too late. Who knows, maybe they are right? But equally, maybe they are wrong.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” A classic phrase used in a multitude of situations and also applicable here. Every little step in the right direction, every day, by everyone makes a difference. Want some inspiration? A flat in New Zealand has gone on a mission to live entirely plastic free! Follow them on Instagram to get tips on how to reduce your own plastic consumption.

 

Anoushka Veljee, San Jose

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