Fighting the plastic wave - what businesses can do
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

Fighting the plastic wave - what businesses can do

Single use packaging accounts for 36 percent of the 400 million tons of plastic produced globally each year. With average plastic recycling rates as low as 9 percent, the need for eco-friendly alternatives is ever more pressing. Here are a few suggestions from Esther Dahmen, Consultant at One Modern World for eco-friendly solutions for companies in line with the circular economy

One Modern World is a Dubai based start-up providing sustainable solutions for corporate organisations with a focus on reducing single use plastic. This includes reusable options as well as materials which are biodegradable or compostable according to international standards.

Some of these new renewable materials to replace single use packaging are mushrooms, seaweed or plant fibre from agricultural waste. For packaging it is particularly important to be compostable or biodegradable, ideally in a natural environment (vs industrial composting facility) to fit into the circular economy. As part of the circular economy, any packaging that can’t be eliminated or reused must be collected, recycled or composted after use with the aim to prevent waste.

In addition to the “compostability”, another sustainability aspect to consider when choosing a renewable material is if this competes with a food source. If something can be made from waste this helps prevent building up landfill as well as carbon emissions and also reduces soil erosion and other environmental stressors through agriculture. This illustrates why a life cycle approach is essential when evaluating these materials to fully assess their impact on the environment.

However, replacing packaging with eco-friendly materials is only one of several mitigation strategies for companies to reduce single use plastic. In order to fully address the issue a multi-pronged approach is needed to tackle this complex problem including:

  • Deploy reuse and refill systems, e.g. water filtration instead of bottled water

  • Ensure proper waste management incl. recycling and composting

  • Plastic offsetting / credits enabling waste collection and recycling facilities

A number of countries are implementing measures against plastic waste and the UAE is also taking steps to address the issue with new recycling facilities being planned and a commitment to the Circular Economy by establishing a respective committee earlier this year. The Dubai Tourism Sustainability Guidelines for hospitality also call for waste reduction and deployment of eco-friendly materials.

Measuring and managing their plastic and packaging footprint is now part of every company’s decarbonization or net zero strategy. Understanding the implications and challenges companies face when starting to reduce those footprints is at the core of One Modern World’s value proposition.

Packaging is a great way to communicate brand values. Opting for eco-friendly options is therefore a smart choice for any company – not only from an environmental perspective - it’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate to their customers their green values and a commitment to planetary wellbeing.