Single use Plastic – Time to step up to our Environmental Responsibility

We have all seen and read about it - the recent media stories, the high-profile and very public commitment by international corporates and high street brands to start doing something about single use plastic. Even the Royal Estates have now banned overnment departments have started to follow suit, taking practical steps to cut back on the use of plastics and reduce their environmental impact.

Our hearts are in the right place - we want to become more sustainable and be responsible citizens. The stunning footage seen in Blue Planet II and the shocking images of oceans of waste are finally driving the message home. We see it everywhere and we are all aware that we cannot continue down the path of single-use plastic. Prince Charles has given his backing to the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign, describing the build-up of plastic waste in our oceans as "one of the most troubling environmental trends".

Globally the message is similar. The EU plans to make all plastic packaging -  include a reduction in consumption of single-use plastics - recyclable or reusable by 2030, part of a pledge that is an integral component of a wider plastic strategy to tackle the issue of plastic waste.

China, the world’s biggest market for household waste, as of January this year has imposed a ban on imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste. Analysis of customs data by Greenpeace reveals British companies have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – two-thirds of the UK’s total waste plastic exports. This will immediately impact the UK's efforts to recycle more plastic and increase the risk of environmental pollution.

So what is the fuss all about?

We have all consumed liquids from plastic bottles and cups.  At the moment, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. Recent reports from Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends show that annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping our recycling efforts and putting oceans, coastlines and other natural environments at risk. This surge in the use of plastic bottles is alarming - more than half a trillion of will be sold annually by the end of the decade.

Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is highly recyclable. But as their use soars across the globe, our efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from polluting the oceans are not enough, and will fail to keep up with the rising numbers.

And bottles are not the only items to blame. Add to that the wide-spread single-use packaging, the plastic beads in cosmetics and make-up and the microfibres in clothing, and you can see the issues multiply.

Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds. Eventually this also ends up in our food chain - getting into our water, our food and even our bodies.

Where do we Start

Single Use Plastic in Offices: Many corporates and organisations have already started making positive steps in this direction, putting in place plans and policies to limit and eventually eliminate the use of plastic cups, cutlery and containers from their offices and canteens. So what are they using instead? From coffee cups to water bottles they are encouraging staff to think and use cups and bottles that won't end up in the landfill.

The Sourcing Team Water Bottle with Fruit infusion

The simplest approach that can immediately be adopted in many organisations is to find and provide water bottles that employees, clients and customers would like enough to use more than once. As responsible and global sourcing specialists, we are on a constant mission to find the most suitable, environmentally-friendly solution. There are many options to suit every person and situation...including water bottles with options such as filters for purification or fruit to flavour the water. The most important thing is to find the one that works for them.

In Retail: Eliminate the use of the plastic bag and hand out bags for life. From our branded jute and cotton bags to our BottleBag Shoppers, made out of 100% recycled plastic PET bottles - we have a great range of sustainable solutions.

Bags are great products for brand awareness. Whether in retail or office environments; folding bags or backpacks; there is simple no excuse for not carrying a bag with you! They create a unique blank canvas to showcase your brand as a responsible organisation that supports employees to do the right thing.

Our sustainably sourced shopping bag made from PET Bottles is a double hit -  compact enough to keep in your pocket or handbag, it is a wonderful gift that imparts the right responsible and sustainable message for your brand while looking after the environment. So be creative with your options and design to ensure your bag is a definite keeper!

During Festivals, Sports and Outdoor Events: We have all at some time enjoyed great outdoor events and festivals - from the popular festivals such as Wilderness, Glastonbury, BBC's Music Festivals, BST Hyde Park, Bestival to the regular sports calendar such as Wimbledon, Henley, horse-racing, cricket, rugby, football and other international games - and wondered about the mountains of plastic that was left behind.  The environmental message has also reached organisers and outlets selling at these events. Many of these festivals are annual, very high profile events with massive footfall and organisations typically provide corporate hospitality to contacts, clients and customers. From products such as cups, containers and utensils to emergency ponchos - a must for British weather - the key word is now bio-degradable.  

Most of the festivals have green policies in place, forcing suppliers and retailers, even sponsors, to comply if they wish to be part of the event. The emphasis is to limit what people bring - with rules regarding reusable water -bottles to no-plastic-bag policies that are very much in line with our overall thinking for reusable or biodegradable products.  

We have sourced a range of products for such events. Our certified BIO-rain ponchos made from GMO-free cornstarch is 100% biodegradable & compostable. They are stylish, durable and practical, from budget to high specification to keep in their own bag, bio-degradable but certainly not single-use. These are key high-visibility items that are ideal giveaways or items for sale at events. They provide great branding options with all-over print opportunities— personalised products that keep visitors dry while protecting the environment.

If you are interested in finding out more about the issues discussed in this story,  please email us  for our white paper on Biodegradable Plastic - Time to Step Up to Environmental Responsibility - #We can Make all the Difference.

We have 20+ years experience in partnering with clients and delivering responsible, sustainable and compliant promotional gifts and merchandise that are brand-enhancing and backed by the right due diligence. We are a responsible business and care about our environment. We also care about our clients’ commitments and reputations.  We can advise you on how you too can be a responsible organisation, protecting the environment and your brand reputation. Contact our Client Services Director and Sustainable Champion Becky Fleury on or +44 (0)20  8666 0781 to discuss ideas and see how we can help you source responsible products.

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