Understanding Single-Use Plastic, Zero Waste, and the Circular Economy
What is single-use plastic?
Single-use plastics are disposable plastics meant for ‘use-and-throw’.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), these plastics are incredibly harmful to the environment because they are non-biodegradable, which means they can take thousands of years to decompose.
In the process, our soil and water is contaminated with noxious chemicals and over 1 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.
How does single-use plastic affect wildlife?
Currently, it is estimated that there are 100 million tons of plastic in oceans around the world and, by the year 2050, scientists expect that the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish measured by weight.
However, while large plastics such as bags, bottles, balloons, buoys, packaging materials, and food wrappers are a substantial problem, it is the microplastics they become that are especially harmful to the environment.
Wildlife in danger
Birds usually confuse these tiny pieces of plastic for food and end up eating the toxic debris. Fish consume thousands of tons of plastic in a year, ultimately transferring it up the food chain to marine mammals and an estimated 1 million seabirds are killed every year as a result.
Many dead turtles have been found with plastic bags or fishing line in their stomachs and the death of one sperm whale found in California over ten years ago was caused by 22.2 kilos of plastic that the whale had eaten.
What is zero-waste?
Although the name suggests the goal of this movement is to create ‘zero-waste’ and send nothing to a landfill, most advocates of the zero-waste movement acknowledge that generating absolutely no waste is unrealistic. The goal, instead, is to get as close to zero as possible.
The reasons behind the Zero Waste Movement are simple:
- If you refuse to buy products with wasteful packaging, the demand for those products will decline.
- By refusing to purchase products stored in single-use plastic, you can help to address the global plastic crisis.
- Less plastic means fewer toxins in your life and in the environment.
A Zero Waste lifestyle may look slightly different depending on where you live, but everyone can participate on some level. If you live in a town or a city, you often have more choices for shopping in bulk or it may be easier to shop at ‘zero waste’ stores. If you live in a rural area, you may have more options for generating your own food production. The goal is simply to do the best that you can with the resources that you have.
The question we all need to be asking ourselves is how we can design a circular economy for plastic, one in which it never becomes waste or pollution.
What is the Circular Economy?
The circular economy is an economic system in which products are designed to be used, rather than used up. From the beginning of their life, these products and the systems they sit within are designed to ensure maximum use is achieved. That means no materials are lost and no toxins are leaked in the process. This system is designed to benefit not only the environment, but society and the economy too. In this model, all packaging is designed to be either reused, recycled, or composted.
What is PLA?
Polylactic acid or PLA is bioplastic produced from renewable materials. It is an all-natural material that’s both compostable and biodegradable.
Unlike traditional plastics, known for releasing toxins, this durable, reliable plastic alternative returns goodness to the earth when it decomposes – releasing water, biomass, and carbon dioxide. PLA takes between six and nine months to break down depending on temperature, moisture, and oxygen – making it the perfect alternative to single-use packaging.
The manufacturing process for PLA is also more environmentally friendly as it produces approximately 80% less greenhouse gases and uses an average of 52% less non-renewable energy than traditional plastics.
How does PLA fit within the circular economy?
A lower carbon footprint and less energy required in production are just two of the ways PLA aligns with the circular economy. PLA also comes from natural resources and can be returned to the earth naturally through composting – making it the perfect example of a circular model.
How does BONNIE BIO contribute to the circular economy?
Bonnie Bio products are made from PLA (polylactic acid). They are predominantly made from corn starch derived PLA, which is biodegradable, carbon-neutral, and edible.
These plastic alternatives provide real solutions for homes and businesses looking to reduce their plastic consumption and their products, such as multi-purpose bags, straws, and industrial cling wrap, provide sustainable options for individuals and businesses looking to build a greener tomorrow.