Plastic Manifesto | We Can So We Will
We wrote a plastic manifesto. Why? Because the world needs one. We present to you 10 plastic-related commandments which we will live by from now on. 10 rules that will guide our, and hopefully your, relation with plastic.
1. We acknowledge that plastic itself is not the problem but the way we deal with it.
Plastics or polymers have material properties that almost no other material has. They are adjustable; polymers can be flexible or stiff, see through or colorized – if wanted. Furthermore, plastics are durable, they can last some 400 odd years, a property that currently is a cause of the problem, as we commonly use plastics for single use products.
2. We shall invest time and means to counter the problems caused by plastic overconsumption.
As an organization we are aware of the problems that plastics are causing on a global level. Because we have a responsibility, we will provide the means and education to key positions in our company that deal directly and indirectly with the root of the issue, for instance facility management and procurement.
3. We shall refuse plastics where they are insignificant.
We have become so used to the idea that we can simply buy something and wrap it up in plastic for protection, but this is not always a necessity. As an organization, we need to allocate the products we use that contain plastics, or are transported in it, and determine whether it is really necessary – in order to eventually reduce the amount of plastic intake in the first place.
4. We shall do everything within our ability to replace single-use plastics with reusable alternatives.
A company generally deals a lot with plastics that comes in and out, of which most of it is actually only being used once – from the plastic wrapped lunch to plastic dry cleaning covers. We will do everything we can to reduce this, first of all by identifying the material flows and considering the consequences if specifics are replaced by more sustainable alternatives.
5. We shall prioritise the use of recycled plastics over the use of virgin plastics.
As material quality of recycled plastics can be very similar to that of plastics that have been newly produced out of crude oil (‘virgin’ plastics). If we come to the conclusion we have a specific need for certain products that do contain plastics, we will look for recycled alternatives of that same product. If financially viable – we will choose the latter over the first.
6. We shall recognise our power in the value chain to demand the same ethics regarding plastics from our suppliers and customers.
As a small to medium-sized enterprise, or even larger company, you have an immense influence on the entire production- and value chain you are in, especially towards your suppliers. If you are able to demand certain numbers of (plastic) products, you are able to demand specifics from your supplier. For instance: do not wrap the product in plastic. You may even ask a supplier to change a certain design specifically for you, which in turn will affect other buyers too.
7. We shall reduce the different amounts of plastics we use as we realise that mono-streams of plastic waste are at the root of making plastic a circular product.
A plastic soda bottle already contains three different types of plastics, the lid, the lid cap which is underneath, and the transparent bottle itself. There are over a few dozen types of the most common plastics, but mixing them results in over thousands and thousands of different specific types. As each different plastic variation needs different recycle- or recovery system specifics (i.e. melting temperature), we are adding much complexity to our plastic recycling value chain, making it undesirably expensive in some cases. For a circular economy to work as of now, we need to reduce the variations in the plastic recycling system, thus being careful of what variation of types of plastics we buy.
8. We shall co-operate with partners in our value chain to counter the problems caused by plastic overconsumption.
As the plastic problem is not the ownership of only one individual company but a problem that overcasts it shadow over the entire production- and value chain; it must be integrally solved by collaboration, all the way from product design to production, to eventual sales and eventually: use and recovery.
9. We shall share our knowledge on revaluing plastic, even with competitors, because the problem is too big to be handled alone.
As pioneers, the knowledge, means and methods that you are developing is of high value to you and your company, but also to your competition. But since the plastic problem is too big, and the solutions are too valuable, we will share key factors in order to help out others, while keeping pole position.
10. We shall take responsibility for countering this problem despite not experiencing the consequences at firsthand.
In many cases, we are not the direct cause of the plastic problem, nor will we directly see or feel the positive consequences, even if we have proposed a change made in our system. Still, we will continue to do work on solving the issue.
Want to get involved? Help us spread the message!
- Share this manifesto with your co-workers, your boss, your fellow students, your teacher, your friends and your family.
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- Join us at the Plastic Design Challenge – The Big Finale.