Beauty and the plastic beast

The good news? The European parliament has voted in favour a ban on single-use plastics in an effort to tackle pollution in seas, fields and waterways. Under the planned legislation (it still has to be backed by the EU states) items including plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be outlawed by 2021. What of plastic bottles? By 2025, 90% would have to be recycled.

The bad news? In a private meeting with the head of one of the trade bodies that represents the beauty, skincare and toiletries sector we were told that most of its members plan to get around the ban by saying that their plastic bottles, jars and other containers are not ‘single-use’ only. After all, they will claim, when you buy a bottle of shampoo or a jar of face cream you will be using it over and over again for days, weeks, even months.

Why is plastic such a problem? Every year, according to Greenpeace, 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastics – everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads – end up in our oceans, where it may take centuries to fully degrade. As a result, our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup and the effects on ocean life are chilling. Big pieces of plastic are choking and entangling turtles and seabirds and tiny pieces are clogging the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food, from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and even ending up in the seafood on our plates. Lightweight single-use items, by the way, are among the most damaging of plastics because they travel long distances and are responsible for toxins that damage marine flora and fauna.

What makes the attitude of beauty, skincare and toiletries companies so despicable is the fact that there already exists at least one environmentally friendly option that all manufacturers could use. Biopolymer is different to conventional polyethylene (the most commonly used plastic) because it is produced from the waste product of sugarcane, eliminating the use of fossil based raw materials that are so harmful to the environment. The renewable sugarcane captures CO2 from the atmosphere during its production, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Biopolymer is also recyclable, which means that landfill dumping is greatly reduced. Some biopolymers are also compostable.

Please note, at Wild & Precious we use biopolymer containers. For more information visit: https://wildandprecious.com/pages/reuse-recycle

The photograph, by the way, is of a small beach near our workshop and shows the result of a local residents’ clean up. Old fishing nets are one of the biggest threats to marine life.