Plastic Bottles, Past Present and Future – Are They a Factor in Your Organization’s Operations? Some Remedies to Consider…

Plastic Bottles, Past Present and Future - Are They a Factor in Your Organization's Operations? Some Remedies to Consider...

Among the fascinating – and horrifying – environmental-focused stories we see now on a regular basis are those about the “Pacific Gyre” -- that floating (and quickly becoming “a semi-continent” of garbage and waste) in the Northern stretches of the vast Pacific Ocean.

The National Geographic describes “The Pacific Garbage Patch” as two distinct and vast collections of floating debris in the Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. One patch (“the vortex”) spans east to west from the North American west coastlines all the way to Japan and includes the Eastern Patch (garbage floating between Hawaii and California). 

An ocean gyre, NG explains, is a system of circular ocean currents formed by the Earth’s wind patterns and the forces created by the planet’s rotation. The gyre center is calm and stable – and so garbage piles up and stays.  A bottle thrown in the California surf crosses the Pacific and ends up a patch (after about six years of travel).  Most plastics (alas) do not break down – so the gyre (made up of microplastics for the most part) grows and expands. Much of the debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Speaking of (plastic) bottles, how can we think outside the bottle to drive a more sustainable future?  That’s the topic of today’s Top Story, with commentary by Richard Howells and David Sweetman published on the Forbes platform.

They say that 8 million metric tons of plastic are added to our oceans every day.

Among the islands of plastic debris, they examine are the Pacific patches -- one is the size of the State of Texas.  Consider the impact: sea turtles caught around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can have up to 74% of their diets comprised of ocean plastics…and in turn, some of the plastic consumed by sea creatures finds its way into our human diets.  What have you eaten today that might have had “microplastics” on the ingredient label? (Hmmm…should we add that now to the food labels?)

Some states, cities and municipalities are focusing on single-use plastics (shopping bags), plastic bottles and the like.  In Suffolk County, New York (a bellwether county for progressive ideas that address societal issues, and one of the first to adopt mandatory beverage container recycling 30+ years ago) recently adopted measures to reduce single-bag use by shoppers.  New York State quickly adopted a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags in retail. This is a trend to watch.

Among the authors’ suggestions for your business: (1) take action your on supply chain;  (2) design products and packaging materials to be more bio-degradable; (2) drive a circular economy (encourage re-use, recycling); (3) examine the delivery of your products’ packaging – try re-usable containers vs. throwaway packaging. The details are in the Forbes commentary.

Focus on plastic bottles, they advise, such as the disposable water bottle (think outside the bottle!). You can use water dispensing machines; water filtration equipment (typically built in refrigerators now); re-usable water bottles (we have a neat blue bottle here on the desk from Nestle Water); be creative in recycling of water bottles. (Mohawk Industries recycles 3 billion plastic bottles annually for their carpet manufacturing.)

There’s more for you in the Top Story. 

And here’s a related story about Amazon’s efforts along these lines:
Amazon's incredible, vanishing cardboard box  (Tuesday - July 16, 2019) Source: CNN 

You can learn more about the Garbage Patch on the NG website.


This Week's Top Stories

Thinking Outside the Bottle to Drive A Sustainable Future   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: Forbes - The tide of devastation from single-use plastics polluting our oceans is now at an all-time high. Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic are added to our oceans every day. Long ago, islands of plastic debris started... 

Global Sustainability: Continuing Forward Momentum!

How Sustainable ETFs Let Small Investors Make A Difference   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: Knowledge Wharton - Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in securities with sustainability goals are growing in popularity. According to predictions from BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, sustainable ETF fund assets are... 

Sustainable living isn’t just about the environment, it’s about smart consumerism   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: Park Record - By removing plastics from everyday choices, individuals have the power to make a collective difference for the planet 

Trends end’: Fashion brands are working to move sustainability efforts beyond PR   
(Tuesday - July 16, 2019) Source: Glossy - Sustainability is about more than just materials. While making a pair of shoes out of plastic bottles is good PR, it’s the behind-the-scenes supply chain changes across a company’s inventory that really move the needle on... 

Shareable scooters may seem sustainable, but are they really?   
(Wednesday - July 17, 2019) Source: GreenBiz - Scooter companies are working to extend life span through a variety of methods, including designing and producing new models (mostly with the Chinese company Ninebot) to better withstand shared usage, varied weather conditions... 

Sustainable development will falter without data   
(Thursday - July 18, 2019) Source: Nature - Unless governments establish competent monitoring systems, the world will not reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals, says Jessica Espey... 

The quest to make jeans more sustainable   
(Thursday - July 18, 2019) Source: TreeHugger - New guidelines lay out better denim manufacturing practices that focus on garment durability, recyclability, and traceability. 

What's your sustainability moonshot?   
(Thursday - July 18, 2019) Source: GreenBiz - I’ve long said that my favorite questions in sustainability all begin with the words "What would it take." 

Living Sustainably - Can We Save the Planet Without Having to Do Without?   
(Friday - July 19, 2019) Source: Spiegel Online - Surveys show that nearly three-quarters of all Germans are worried about their planet's future. It's no wonder then, that the secretary general of the United Nations hardly misses an opportunity to call climate change the... 

Sustainability Is the Most Pressing Issue Facing Fashion—And It’s Only Getting Harder   
(Friday - July 19, 2019) Source: Vogue - If this degree of over-production continues, the only viable solution would be for consumers to stop shopping with those brands en masse, and that hardly seems realistic. 

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Quick Scan of the Headlines:
ESG Topics & Front-of-Mind Issues
Corporate Sustainability, Responsibility, Citizenship

Why the Economic Game Still Outplays the Environment   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: Clean Technica

U.S. proposes barring big tech companies from offering financial services, digital currencies   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: Reuters

China's economic growth slumps to lowest in 27 years as the trade war hits   
(Monday - July 15, 2019) Source: CNN 

The Environmental Cost of Amazon's Prime Day   
(Wednesday - July 17, 2019) Source: Eco Watch 

Precision or persuasion? The science of communicating environmental crises
(Thursday - July 18, 2019) Source: The Hill 

The 5 Benefits of Increasing Your Corporate Social Responsibility   
(Friday - July 19, 2019) Source: Real Leader


Headlines From the Corporate Sector

Skyworks Releases Positive Sustainability Report   
(Tuesday - July 16, 2019) Source: Yahoo Finance 

Zara Announces 100% Sustainable Fabrics in Collections by 2025 & Eco-Efficient Stores   
(Wednesday - July 17, 2019) Source: Hypebeast 

Adidas Challenges The Fashion Industry In Sustainability, Pledging Only Recycled Plastic By 2024   
(Friday - July 19, 2019) Source: Forbes

Giant Shipper Bets Big on Ending Its Carbon Emissions. Will It Pay Off?   
(Tuesday - July 16, 2019) Source: NPR - Maersk


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