When The Giants Join The Fight Against Plastic

The public is now fully aware of the gigantic plastic pollution issue. They know it’s time to act and act now. Most of us have already “gone” into using reusable plastic bags, refillable bottles and buy fruits and vegetables in bulk instead of in individual plastic bags, small shops don’t give you a plastic bag unless you ask and pay for it! The public is playing an important role in the fight against single-use plastics but what about the major corporations? Are they doing their part?

I just read a very interesting article in the Bangkok Post called “Leading by example” about consumer product companies adopting ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ strategies and that’s what I call positive news!

Large corporations which are fully aware urgent action is required are now making enormous efforts to make their product packaging 100% recyclable or reusable.

There is also a business reason behind this trend, the fact that consumers themselves are now expecting more sustainable goods and services. People are now ready to buy goods and services at a higher price provided they are respectful of the environment, large consumer goods manufacturers need to meet that demand.

Unilever, for example, has implemented its Unilever Sustainable Living Plan as early as 2010 and they have to keep their promise because the consumers will hold them accountable. Their objective is to convert all its packaging to be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable, cut by half its use of virgin plastic and collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells by 2025.

As an example of the corporation efforts, most of its home care bottles use 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials.

Yet another consumer goods corporation, Nestlé is implementing a number of specific actions including speeding up the transformation of its products in line with consumer trends and choices.

Nestlé Indochina, for example, is using paper secondary packaging. Nestlé worldwide is also developing packagings that will reduce their environmental footprint by using climate-friendly ingredients and alternative packaging materials.

In the cosmetics industry, L’Oréal committed that by 2025, 50% of its products’ plastic components will be recycled or bio-sourced and 100% of its plastic packaging will be refillable, rechargeable, recyclable or compostable.

“Sustainability is a new licence to operate, and it’s the condition inherent to the company’s long-term success and to safeguarding our planet. It’s clear that corporate social responsibility is a strategic issue for L’Oréal,” said Ines Caldeira, chief executive of L’Oréal Thailand.

Food operators are also joining the fight. The Oishi Group, for example, implemented “recycle and reduce” schemes such as changing the company’s gyoza and sushi packaging via delivery to paper boxes from plastic four months ago.

Hotel, Restaurant and Coffee chains are also making extensive efforts to reduce their single-use plastics usage.

Most of the hotels I have been staying in Myanmar, for example, have glass water bottles in the rooms instead of the typical plastic ones they used before.

The Phuket Hotels Association goes a step further than supporting the reduction of the usage of single-use plastics by their members, they are addressing the core of the problem where the solutions are to be found, education.

They just launched their Green Planet Learning Hub that will feature a green learning centre/workshop curriculum catered for Thai students as a first step. The Green Planet Learning Hub will provide education and awareness-raising programs regarding Environment & Sustainability to Thai students between 8-15 years of age in Phuket. Their aim is to educate 5,000 Thai children per year, approximately 100 students per week.

Now that the Giants are joining the fight and children are learning more about the environment, it’s also up to you and me to do our part so let’s do this!

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