Due to ongoing environmental destruction, we as consumers have reached critical levels of waste production.
In 2017, 350 million tons of plastic were produced around the world (Plastics Europe). This mass production compounds the 8.3 billion synthetic polymers that have accumulated in landfills and oceanic trash islands to decompose slowly for 400-1,000 years (Post Consumers). Researchers note that as this waste degrades, leachate results to emit greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane and ethylene. Before it fully degrades, that same plastic poisons aquatic plants as it curates a cesspool of microbes, contributing to ocean warming. All this happens unless a sea bird, turtle, or fish unknowingly ingest the plastic. Indeed, these consequences are alarming, though our production/consumption remains unchanged.
Want, buy, throw away, repeat
It's not that we're unaware of the problem- the science community has stressed the need to recycle for decades. While some may be in denial of global climate change, and some may choose to disregard the issue as a whole, most are beholden to their plastic products due to the availability, affordability and convenience that it offers. These inexpensive qualities are purposeful to enable more consumers to buy more products that result in more profits for more executive bonuses. While welcoming in cash flow, companies choose not to factor in the after-market of their products, thus turning a blind eye to the dangers that their products pose as a detriment to our environment, health and safety.
We've been a victim of corporate resistance to a circular economy, aka consumers spending less money
Plastic is cheap to produce. Very, very cheap. Among Chinese manufacturers, producing plastic packaging can come as low as $0.01-$0.02. This enables companies to charge you that $1.50 and still make a meaningful margin. When looking from a profitability perspective, choosing plastic packaging as an efficiency solution (lightweight, durable and sterile) is a no-brainer. As a result, 40% of plastic produced goes to packaging for consumer goods, estimated at 161 million tons (University of California, Santa Barbara). Most of which, are used only once.
Companies aren't incentivized nor motivated to solve these problems. For example, Coca-Cola has publicly acknowledged that changing their current single-use plastic model will eat into their profits, which will subsequently increase costs to consumers. When put into context, Coca-Cola puts out more than 110 billion single-use plastic bottles globally, making them a major contributor to plastic packaging waste. Likely, companies like Coca-Cola won’t change until it threatens profits or the government forces them.
But why not just recycle? Short answer, we're really bad at it.
Due to the lack of infrastructure and inability to keep up with production, data shows that recycling won't make a dent in ongoing plastic disposal. In 2018, National Geographic published an expose detailing that only 9% of plastics are actually recycled (National Geographic). Understanding that our current reactive approach isn’t a viable solution, we as consumers have now inherited the responsibility to make mindful choices in our product consumption, thus placing us at a critical inflection point to evolve our consumption habits.
How we break out of the plastic mold
Until now, we’ve been a victim of profit-driven business decisions in creating consumer products, but when flipping the perspective of conventional consumption, plastic doesn’t need to be the only factor that makes products affordable. Without sacrificing the savvy qualities plastic offers, we've created biodegradable paper cartons, made with fewer materials and minimal textiles to reduce carbon emissions and energy used in production. Additionally, we have introduced the concept of retaining the original, high durability packaging to save our consumers a significant amount of money over time. Lastly, Planet Pods removes the toxic ingredients from cleaning agents so that recycling is possible. Overall, we’re driven to continue building our approach to cleaning because, well, we need to.
The livelihood of humanity is at stake, unless we switch to eco-friendly products built with minimal after-market waste
It’s much worse than we think. Plastic is incredibly destructive to the environment, human health, and wildlife. When plastics begin to decompose into smaller pieces (micro-plastics) these products ultimately infest our bodies through foods and beverages. If we continue to consume plastics, we can expect to unknowingly eat 70,000 pieces of micro-plastics in our lifetime (Science Direct). So what would happen if we started to make incremental changes to our current consumption? If the 327.2 million US consumers trim 10 pounds of plastic a year, that will result in saving 1.6 million tons. This lift is meaningful when noting the dire circumstances we face as a society in the projected rate of plastic production.
Every person matters to make a difference
With the science and marketplace considered, we see the dire need for a change agent to enter the market and create feasible, eco-friendly alternatives to help facilitate consumers through their consumption evolution to match the circumstances we're facing from an environmental impact perspective. Starting with Planet Pods we will solve for household cleaning plastic and chemical waste. From there, we plan to question the fundamentals of each CPG vertical and solve for each industry flaw. Consumer purchases will fuel industry change and education will fuel informed purchase decisions. You, as the consumer, have the power to create a packaging revolution that will build a safe and healthy future for humanity on Earth.