Plastic plays an important role in our daily life and has done for many decades; if we stop and look around us, it’s involved in many of the things that are critical to modern life functioning efficiently, safely and conveniently. Yet we know that the associated carbon emissions and wastefulness inherent in today’s linear economy needs to change, and fast: without action, by 2050, plastic production and incineration could emit 2.8 gigatons of CO2 per year (Source: Center for International Environmental Law).
Moving to a circular economy for plastic has to be the endgame; closed-loops that maintain material value in the system for many lifetimes. Recycling is a critical part of that, but circular change actually starts well before that point. It begins with reduction of material use and designing for Reuse.
Reuse means the valuable materials we use can keep their value across many lifetimes. It means closing the loop by creating new ones; developing systems in which products are designed for perfect performance, again and again, until recycling eventually renews the material and puts its value back into play once more. Then repeat.
Reuse systems mean a greatly lowered environmental footprint for plastic materials, especially compared to the equivalent CO2 emissions associated with single-use materials. This model is also in line with increasing end consumer demand and comfort with more sustainable, reducing and reusing behaviours.
Scaling reuse systems can go a long way to addressing the single-use packaging problem that exists today. It’s also an attractive economic proposition: Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that replacing 20% of single-use plastic packaging with reusable materials represents a $10 billion opportunity.
The benefits of Reuse systems stretch even further too; digitalisation is the big added value factor. Though tracking, it’s possible to measure and monitor performance and create more transparency throughout the system.
This isn’t all just an ambition; examples of reuse systems are alive and kicking in many places and sectors already today. As leaders come together for COP26 at what promises to be super-critical talks about ensuring there is agreement and momentum to meet vital climate goals, Reuse is be a part of the conference experience itself; all the public catering at the event at the SECC in Glasgow features 70,000 reusable cups made for the occasion, and to live on for future events at the venue.
The COP26 reuse activity is thanks to Borealis’ collaboration with Bockatech, a UK early-stage Greentech business and provider of EcoCore™ technology for sustainable packaging; together they can develop and scale materials for reuse systems. Borealis have already demonstrated activity and commitment in the Reuse space with the Quppa reusable cup system in Belgium, in which their in-house Digital Studio helped build a bespoke solutions to development the reuse system.
EverMinds™ aims to accelerate circular progress for plastic; for Reuse to grow and scale, businesses will need to work together. Our invite is for the experience and expertise of businesses and organisations to come together around the Reuse principle, to help create circular progress that goes on and on.