From Pollution to Packaging
Our bottles are trash - literally. That’s because they are made with 100% post-consumer resin. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. We explain what the deal with our trashy packaging is, and why we think it’s great in this blog!
Plastic is Everywhere
According to a report on Single-Use Plastics prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been made and 6.3 billion tonnes of that has become waste. This is problematic because most plastics don’t biodegrade which means they can remain in our natural environment for up to hundreds of years.
Some of the damage that plastics can cause include leaking toxins into our environment and accumulating in wildlife such as fish (which we consume); harm and death to wildlife (particularly marine life) that mistakenly consume or becomes entangled in plastic and; waterway blockage that can increase the breeding ground of pests such as malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
One of the best things we can do as consumers is to limit our use of plastics, particularly single-use plastics (read our tips here). But here at AspenClean, we wanted to do more.
More than 30% of the plastic produced annually is used for packaging, and
almost 50% of plastic waste generated globally was, you guessed it - packaging. As a product manufacturer with a mission to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability, we have to do our part to ensure that we are leaving the smallest plastic footprint possible.
The Plastic Production Dilemma
The best starting point to decide on what actions we could take was to go back to basics.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse”
We wanted to make sure that our business was taking as many steps as possible to work towards this simple decree.
Our cleaning service stops the production of 50,000 plastic bottles annually by refilling our bottles. We also wash and reuse our cleaning tools, including our microfiber cloths. Our services and products also minimize footprint on the environment through the use of only natural ingredients that biodegrade within 28 days.
All of our product packaging is recyclable, and we encourage the ‘refusal’ of new products by offering concentrates. But there was a big step that we still needed to make.
The Big Commitment to Fighting Plastic Pollution
One of the big problems was that our bottles were too clean. That is, they were made from 50% virgin plastic. ‘Virgin’ or ‘Primary’ plastic is made of raw, non-renewable materials and adds to the plastic pollution issue because it creates more plastic. An alternative is ‘post-consumer resin’ (PCR) which, put simply, means plastic that is made out of plastic waste.
PCR is a great green choice for manufacturers because it creates an alternative ‘end-of-life’ use for plastic. It follows the principles of ‘The New Plastics Economy’, which is an initiative to “circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment”. Rather than becoming waste, plastic gets recycled and reused! PCR is also financially competitive and practical when compared to other green solutions which helps keep our natural alternative cleaners available to more consumers.
So, the next step for AspenClean was a big step. And that was to use 100% PCR to make our bottles.
Is 100% PCR a big deal?
Yes! As Kermit says, it’s not easy being green. That’s true for consumers and companies alike. PCR is financially competitive, but it is still more expensive than virgin plastic. There are also a limited number of reliable manufacturers that offer 100% PCR bottle manufacturing. This is one of the reasons why the transition for many companies is slow.
Many companies have set 100% PCR packaging targets for the future. This is fantastic news for the industry as higher demand for PCR might help alleviate cost and availability challenges.
AspenClean bottles are also 100% HDPE PCR. HDPE stands for ‘High-Density Polyethylene’. As its name suggests, it is a 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 home environments as is more stable (meaning the plastic ingredients don’t leak) and does not contain BPA, phthalates or heavy metals.
With all that in mind, we think it’s a pretty big deal that our bottles are 100% PCR right now.
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.
In the future, we hope to do more to work towards zero waste, including the use of PCR in future product developments and incorporating a refilling program for consumers and local businesses.
But for the moment, we’re celebrating our big decision. Taking action on plastic pollution is a logical step towards AspenClean’s corporate value of sustainability, but also necessary as members of the global community.