Photo Credit: Flickr
Edited with Permission by Frontier
Nowadays, everything comes in plastic. Plastic wrapping, bags and packaging are almost unavoidable in everyday life. Every single year 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced, increasing the already enormous amount of plastic existing on the planet. This yearly increase is an equivalent of the weight of the whole adult population in the world, meaning every year plastic worth of the weight of 242 million people is thrown away. And unfortunately, approximately 90 per cent of all plastics never end up recycled. This is a staggering amount and it doesn’t help that the consumption is only growing.
Plastic places a mounting threat for environment, wildlife and humans. The aftermath of plastic pollution can especially be witnessed in oceans. Out of all the annual plastic waste, eight million tonnes are either dumbed into the oceans or find their way there otherwise.
Plastic pollution is particularly harmful for marine life due to the chemicals released from the waste, the risk of entanglement in plastic objects and ingestion issues when microplastics make their way through intestine. Marine animals are not the only ones suffering from plastic waste, as microplastics have also recently been found in humans.
The destructive implications of plastic winding up in the environment, waters and food chain are now well-known and will have an effect for hundreds of years forward. Reduction of plastic is the number one solution to the problem which is why new alternative materials to versatile plastic are more than welcomed to the market. Along with the obvious alternatives, from glass to paper, more innovative solutions are now paving the way for plastic-free world by making the use of plastic obsolete.
Here are the latest alternatives that could permanently substitute plastic in near future:
1. Aviani Eco
Started in 2014 in Bali, Aviani set to find a way to replace single-use plastics that amount to around half of the plastics produced. Now five years later, all their products are derived from reusable sources, are biodegradable and the company thrives towards circular economy that minimises waste.
Instead of continuing the cycle of plastic consumption, Aviani has created materials that have the same abilities than plastic but don’t take thousands of years to break down. Also, they provide customisation for your personal needs.
The bio-cassava bags by them actually look like the typical plastic bags available in supermarkets, but they do not contain any petroleum elements and are compostable and toxic-free. They also provide plastic-looking cutlery, tableware and packaging made out of corn starch.
2. Beeswax Wraps
Looking for an alternative answer to cling wraps and tinfoil? Look no further, Beeswax Wraps are an ecological alternative, made in the UK, to single-use packaging and wrapping.
The wraps are made of organic cotton, beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil which ensure your food will be sealed tight but stays fresh longer since the wraps are breathable material. Furthermore, you do not have to toss Beeswax Wraps away after one use and contribute to the prevalent throwaway-culture because the wraps are reusable. You can wash them in cold water with a bit of soap and you are good to go. If taken care of correctly, Beeswax Wraps can be used for a year or even more. After the wraps are no longer usable, they can be composted.
Even though the wraps are not free from animal products, over all the wraps are a great way to reduce waste coming from traditional wrapping.
The newest pioneer in the world of plastic substitutes is the Chilean company Solubag started by Roberto Astete and Cristian Olivares. Their product is a bag made of a material that dissolves into water, making it impossible trash the waters and harm marine life.
The chemical base used for the bags is PVA, a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol, and the oil derivatives normally found in plastic bags have been replaced with alternatives that are biodegradable.
Two of their main products, ‘plastic’ bag and canvas bag, dissolve in water. ‘Plastics’ bags in cold water and canvas bags in hot water. What is left of the bags in the water is carbon which, according to the creators, has no harm for humans.
Currently only available in Chile, the company is planning on expanding into mass production and claims that existing companies will be able to produce their bags just by changing their formulas. This would mean the cost of a dissolving bag would remain approximately the same as the one of a plastic bag.
To invent a more sustainable replacement for a plastic bottle, Skipping Rocks Lab started to think outside of the box for solutions, and Ohoo! was created. Ohoo! is a flexible and edible packaging -you heard right, edible- for liquids. It’s made out of seaweed extract, but don’t worry if you are not a fan of the taste as it’s also biodegradable.
According to their website, it’s perfect for ‘on-the-go situations’ in which it can serve as a bottle for water or juice. Currently, the company is partnering with companies, like Just Eat and Selfridges, to trial their product.