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How a circular economy will assist us in the plastic crisis

How a circular economy will assist us in the plastic crisis

 

We’re all going through a breakup. The world is breaking up with traditional plastic; the cheap, high-functioning, revolutionary material we used to love.

 

Once an efficient and lucrative industry, plastics recycling is now a broken system. After China shut the gate to the world’s plastic waste, New Zealand among many other countries is struggling to find offshore recyclers that will accept our plastic for processing. The bin we put out on the curb each week thinking its contents were being recycled into new products are now being stockpiled around the country waiting for local infrastructure to catch-up. One thing is for sure, we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic crisis.

 

In theory, time heals everything, but to move on from traditional plastic we need to implement alternative solutions to forge a better relationship with our planet.

 

The solution lies in the concept called the circular economy. This is a global ambition that can be applied to almost every industry, as it is a complete redefining of how we manufacture and operate businesses. It aims to be restorative and regenerative by design, ensuring we:

 

  • Use resources efficiently.
  • Preserve and enhance natural capital (water, soil and forests etc.) by reducing our use of raw materials and encouraging re-use for material input.
  • Eliminate the “throw-away” step and instead see it as a crucial component to the input of manufacturing.

 

Essentially, “waste” is no longer wasted and is instead a valuable resource.
One industry adopting this notion and transforming the way we view waste is compostable packaging, which happens to be in a happy relationship with takeaway food and beverages.

 

Ecoware compostable packaging is produced by nature and certified for home and/or commercial composting after use. Our products are made from renewable plant material like bamboo and paper. We use IngeoTM bioplastic, a breakthrough innovation that completely replaces traditional plastic with a resin of the same functional properties, but made entirely from plant material like corn.

 

When composted with food scraps, compostable packaging can be recycled and turned into nutrient-rich compost, great for powering gardens and giving new life to the soil. With healthy topsoil, fruit and veggies are more nutritious, more water can be retained, creating less flooding and runoff into waterways and streams. Composting means that nutrients are reused and continued through the circle of life instead of being lost to landfill.

 

The circular economy is our happily ever after, and composting is already working in our country to achieve this. In fact, certified compostable packaging has set off double-digit growth in the organic collection industry. Auckland company, We Compost, collects several thousand compost bins a week and their business is growing by around 10 bins a week, which is the equivalent to 100,000L a year.

 

There are 97 commercial composting facilities in New Zealand, 10 of which can accept Ecoware packaging and food scraps. The potential for a more sustainable country is there, we just need to keep the momentum going and continue to drive a national love for composting.