7 Global Zero Waste Trends to Inspire
Zero waste, war on waste, plastic free living...these are the words shaping the way for our future.
We are seeing an increase in the number of organisations and companies moving towards eco friendlier alternatives to meet the desires of an environmentally conscious population.
This rise of the eco-conscious individual is no doubt a response to the amount of information being shared about our worldwide environmental problems. Social media, documentaries and news stories are making us increasingly aware of the detrimental effects our past & present ways of living are having on Mother Nature. Just search #saveourplanet on Instagram and you will see that there is a flood of images surrounding this topic (and some some of them really stop you in your tracks!).
David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II is one prime example of media playing its role in influencing societies choices and decisions. It's believed that approximately 88% of people who watched the documentary changed their lifestyle and habits after watching it. Or perhaps you saw Australia's own War on Waste documentary which premiered on ABC, and have since thought twice about your reliance on plastic? With the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish…who wouldn’t want to make drastic changes to their reliance on plastic.
We can definitely take a look at our own individual purchases and habits and make changes towards living plastic free. But, the responsibility is not ALL on us…surely?
Thankfully, there are some inspirational changes and initiatives happening worldwide in the name of Mother Nature and our oceans. The words zero waste, are no longer ‘trending words’, they are in fact a lifestyle choice.
Three Zero Waste Trends from around the Globe
1. New Plastics Global Commitment
This initiative is one huge step in the right direction when it comes to reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our ocean and landfill. It unites businesses, governments and up to 250 big name organisations that are currently responsible for 20% of the plastic packaging produced around the world (National Geographic).
These groups have come together with a common goal, and have committed to reducing their waste and pollution. Their vision/dream is to change the way plastic is produced, used and reused. They're working on ways to eliminate plastic that isn't needed, or if it's still needed, they’re working on ways to redesign it so it can be safely reused, recycled or composted. Effectively, they are looking at ways to make sure plastic does not end up in landfill our our oceans.
Members of this group include a diverse name of organisations and include H&M, Unilever, PespsiCo, L'Oreal, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. Walmart and Apple to name a few.
It's fair to say, plastic is paying its price for the damage it's done and is still doing!
2. The banning of single use-plastic
Single use plastic items are perhaps the bane of the worlds current existence when it comes to the war on waste. Individually we can choose not to buy disposable plates, straws and cups, but when it comes to convenience - these items prevail. No matter how hard we try to avoid them, they're almost unavoidable in our every day life.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel...or at least a glimmer of hope as it seems many organisations, countries and cities worldwide are banning the use of single-use plastics. Canada, Peru, San Diego Washington DC are just some of the places introducing bans. (National Geographic). Plus big name companies like Starbucks, Macdonalds (UK and Ireland) and Walt Disney are planning to phase out the use of plastic straws. Carlsberg beer are also jumping onboard, and are the first beer company to dump their plastic can rings (i'm sure you've all seen the horror stories of these rings can do to marine and wildlife.
3. Aldi’s pasta and rice refill station
Ok I may have built up the hype a little too much, yet this last one is still worth a mention, albeit not quite as exciting as the initiatives mentioned above.
Word has it that Aldi in the UK are also listening to consumer’s concerns about our plastic waste and are introducing pasta and rice refill stations to its UK shops on a trial basis.
Shops have been offering bulk food options for as long as I can remember, so this is definitely nothing new. Aldi though has yet to introduce this option to its customers. Being that Aldi are now a big name in the retail/grocery space, it makes sense that they jump onboard with the refill option. Whether the change has been brought about by customer demands, or by Aldi themselves...i'm not quite sure, but either way it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Here in Australia we are also stepping up to the game, and fighting our own war on waste. Stats from Clean Up Australia reveal that Australians produce about 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. With about 84% of that being sent to landfill. A staggering 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste leaks into the environment annually. Now that is *gasp* worthy!
Four Australian Zero Waste Trends to Get on Board with
1. State's banning single-use plastics
10 years ago the idea of banning single-use plastics probably would have been regarded as unnecessary. Well...not anymore! This year here in Australia, SA have led the way in moving towards a future where single-use plastics are a thing of the past. Here, bans are already in effect. SA is proving to be the leaders in making these positive environmental changes, being also the first state to ban the use of plastic bags in supermarkets back in 2009.
ACT is next in line, with bans coming into place from 1st July this year. QLD's bans will start from Sep 1 this year. VIC are bringing the bans into place from 2023. Now, you might be thinking the bans are ‘too little too late’, but at the same time, any step towards reducing our plastic use is a one worth celebrating.
2. Australian Government phasing out of all single-use plastics by 2025
With each state bringing to the table its own set of particulars regarding the ban of single-use plastics, the Australian Government has a nation-wide plan to phase out all single use plastics by 2025. Goals include making sure all packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable and that any 'unnecessary single-use plastic packaging to be phased out through design, innovation, or the introduction of alternatives’ azocleantech.
Obviously this goal is an ambitious one, and whether targets and regulations will be met..well no-one knows, but let's hope there is as much action as there is talk about this nation-wide ban.
3. Coles cleaning refill stations
News is also out that a Melbourne Coles Supermarket is trialling refill stations for cleaning products. Now, I’m all about supporting local businesses and use my local eco friendly shop for my cleaning product refills, but I’m also all about the environment! The more accessible refill options become available to consumers, the less plastic that could potentially end up in landfill.
Lets see if the other supermarkets follow suit.
4. Green Caffeen Swap & Go Cofee Cups
Let’s talk disposable coffee cups! It’s estimated that over 500 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year worldwide (EarthDay.org). 90% of these end up in landfill! Once the cups and lids end up in our waterways and our oceans they break down into tiny pieces (microplastics)…which is detrimental to the marine life (to say the least...).
Which leads me to Green Caffeen. Green Caffeen have devised a scheme where disposable coffee cups will become a thing of the past. Participating cafes will be supplied the Green Caffeen reusable cups (made out of recycled plastic, and can be recycled at end of life). You order a coffee, get it in your Green Caffeen cup, and once done with your coffee you either drop it off at another participating café or get it refilled! It’s like a library of reusable coffee cups with a borrow/return system. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. How fantastic is that!
The future is looking greener
It’s fair to say that as an outsider looking in, the war on waste is becoming just that....a war on waste, and it's worldwide! But, is the war already over, and has the ship already sailed? Questions no-one can answer.
One thing is for sure though, and that is the more we as individuals can do to drive change in organisations, big businesses and governments, the more we will see change. The future is in our hands...literally!