Why we use 100% recycled plastic
From Pollution to Packaging with Chris
Recycled plastic, also called PCR is something we use to reduce our impact on plastic waste pollution. Put simply, PCR Plastic Packaging is made of Recycled Plastics. PCR stands for post-consumer resin, and we’re proud to say AspenClean bottles have thus far been made from 100% PCR Plastics.
What’s more exciting is that we’re soon releasing a new line of products with an even BIGGER focus on reducing our environmental impact.
But back to PCR Plastics, why they’re important, and how PCR plastics are being used.
Why are PCR Plastics important?
It’s Plastic Free July, so naturally, we’ve got a focus on reducing our use of single-use plastics this month (and hopefully for the rest of the year too).
According to a United Nations report by their Environment Programme, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been made globally and a whopping 6.3 billion tonnes of this has become waste. That’s a huge proportion.
These numbers are very worrying because plastics don’t biodegrade which means they stay in our natural environment for hundreds of years.
Why does it matter if we leave plastics in the environment?
Plastics can cause a lot of harm to our environment including; leaking toxins that accumulate in our wildlife such as fish (which we then go on to the consumer), harming or killing wildlife that mistakenly consumes the plastics or becomes entangled in them and can’t escape, and waterway blockages which cause an increase in the breeding grounds for pests such as malaria-carrying mosquitos… if keeping mosquito bite numbers to a minimum isn’t enough of a reason to reduce the plastic waste I don’t know what is!
One of the best ways to keep plastic out of the environment, and keep these problems to a minimum, is to reduce our use of single-use plastics (read our latest tips here).
But at AspenClean, we’re always looking to do more.
How much plastic packaging is produced each year?
The numbers are huge. More than 30% of the plastic made every year is used in packaging, and what’s more, almost 50% of the plastic waste generated globally comes from - you guessed it - plastic.
Looking at these numbers with our vision of reducing harm to the environment, we had to do something. We had to do our part to ensure we are leaving the smallest plastic footprint possible.
How AspenClean is reducing plastics in the environment.
When Alicia and I were thinking about where the best place to start with our contribution to reducing plastics in the environment was, we decided the best place to begin was with the basics - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse.
We wanted to make sure AspenClean was a business taking as many steps as possible to work towards these basics.
What did we do? We implemented a refilling policy with our cleaning service. This initiative alone stops the production of 50,000 plastic bottles every year. We also wash and reuse our cleaning tools, including microfibre cloths. In addition, all our packaging is recyclable and we encourage the ‘refusal’ of new products by offering concentrates.
But we wanted to more, specifically to decrease the amount of plastic waste in the environment, not just limit our own.
The Big Commitment to Fighting Plastic Pollution
Even though we reuse our bottles in our cleaning service, we knew there was still more we could do with them. It might seem like an odd thing to say for a cleaning company...but hear me out: our bottles were too clean.
When we first started the company, our bottles were made out of 50% virgin plastic which means they were made of raw, non-renewable materials and only adding to the plastic pollution problem because they were creating more plastic.
This is where PCR plastic came in! We started using PCR as a way of making our bottles out of waste, rather than creating more waste to make them. We found, as more and more manufacturers are, that PCR is a great choice because it provides an alternative for plastics going into landfills. We use what has already been made, to create what we need thus reducing single-use plastics.
This follows the principles of ‘The New Plastic Economy’, which is a cool initiative to circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in our economy and out of the environment. By using products made from PCR plastics, you’ll be doing your bit for Plastic Free July because you’re not using single-use plastics.
BONUS! PCR is actually financially competitive and practical w
hen compared to other green solutions which helps keep AspenClean’s natural alternative cleaners available to every household.
How do PCR bottles get made?
The process of making PCR bottles starts with collecting and sorting discarded plastics (like milk cartons and drinks bottles) in commercial and residential recycling plants. This is another reason to make sure you’re splitting up your recyclables.
The recovered items then go through a few phases where they are ground, washed, dried, and made into pellets – ready to be used again in future manufacturing.
IS 100% PCR A BIG DEAL?
Absolutely. For consumers and companies alike, it’s not easy being green. PCR is financially competitive but it’s still more expensive than virgin plastic. Currently, there are also not too many reliable manufactures that offer 100% PCR bottle creation… it’s reasons like this that mean the adoption has been pretty slow, and why it is a big deal if a company has managed to achieve 100% PCR.
As a result, a lot of companies have set 100% PCR packaging targets for the future. For example, L'occitane boasts that it will achieve this by 2025. This is really fantastic news for the industry and it’ll help reduce some costs and availability challenges as the demand goes up.
Going beyond PCR
We didn’t stop at PCR…. AspenClean bottles are now also 100% HDPE PCR. What’s this you ask? Well, HDPE stands for ‘High-Density Polyethene’ and as the name suggests- it’s a super tough material.
Its durability is why it is important to keep HDPE in the circular plastic economy because if it ends up in our environment it can take centuries to decompose. HDPE can be recycled at least ten times and is safer for your home as it’s more stable (meaning the plastic ingredients don’t leak) and does not contain BPA, phthalates, or heavy metals.
With all this in mind, our AspenClean team thinks it’s a pretty big deal that our bottles are 100% PCR now, and we’re really proud of this.
From the onset, the vision for AspenClean has been to promote health and protect the environment by providing alternative choices in the cleaning industry. Minimizing plastic waste is now an important part of that mission both inside and out of Plastic Free July.
Stay tuned for our next moves including cardboard packaging coming REALLY soon.