Plastic, we need to talk. Our relationship is getting out of hand. We can’t carry on using you once and then sending you to landfill. However, instead of throwing you away, I’ve found some other uses for you.
Plastic can be put back into circulation and used to make similar items again. Or, it can be reinvented and upcycled into completely new products.
British brands are leading the way when it comes to reducing our reliance on single-use materials. Some even design their entire business model around sustainability and the circular economy. This is fantastic given how much plastic waste impacts our world.
The Scale of the Problem
It takes a whopping 400 years for plastic to degrade. It pollutes the environment and has a catastrophic effect on land animals and marine life.
79% of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic humans have produced to date has been sent to landfill. Whilst an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of that finds its way into our oceans each year.
With the realisation that this cannot go on, we’re beginning to see change. Both consumer-driven interventions and government policies are materialising. These are aimed at reducing our reliance on single-use materials, and promoting planet-friendly alternatives wherever possible.
Some of us are even taking matters into our own hands and tackling the problem at a household level, by becoming involved in the zero waste movement.
We’re starting to head in the right direction. These interventions will hopefully go some way to reducing the devastating impact on the environment. But this doesn’t solve the problem of the plastic that has already been produced and left to pollute the planet.
Initiatives such as Hubbub’s recycled plastic boat aim to raise awareness of the problem. But how else can plastic waste be upcycled into new and innovative products?
Here’s four British brands using upcycled plastic to give plastic a makeover.
A New Lease of Life for London’s Milk Bottles
Battersea-based Delphis Eco produce eco-friendly cleaning products. They collect plastic drinks containers and use them to produce bottles for their range of products.
As the creators of the UK’s first post-use 100% recycled HDPR plastic bottle, these guys have successfully implemented a circular business model. And they could well nudge other leading manufacturers into following suit.
The team of innovators over at MacRebur are on a mission to fix potholes on our roads — yay! Better yet, they’re replacing some of the fossil fuels and bitumen in traditional road mix with pellets made from 100% recycled plastics.
Inspired by his time working with plastic pickers in Southern India, CEO Toby McCartney, together with friends, created this modified asphalt. It’s stronger and longer-lasting than standard road mixes.
English fashion designer Stella McCartney has shaken up the industry in recent years after highlighting the environmental impacts of fast fashion.
The OBE holder has vowed to commit to sustainable practices wherever possible. She’s made considerable changes to the brand’s supply chain, which is now transparent and forward-thinking.
One approach they’re taking is to use ECONYL® regenerated nylon, which the brand aims to switch to by 2020. ECONYL® uses industrial plastic waste and fishing nets to create a completely new fibre.
Stella McCartney and Adidas have also joined forces with sustainability hub, Parley for the Oceans. They created the Parley Ultra Boost X running shoe. This shoe features a plastic mesh layer, made from recycled ocean plastic.
The Boardshorts Brand with Marine Conservation at Its Core
Riz Boardshorts is another brand tackling the throwaway nature of the fashion industry.
They design swimwear inspired by London’s prestigious Savile Row. Only 100% recycled and recyclable fabric is used. It’s made from plastic bottles, creating a product that merges style and sustainability.
They use eco-friendly dyes and print the shorts in the UK, reducing their carbon footprint.
You can even use their ‘Rizcycle’ scheme to return your shorts once they’ve reached the end of their life. Using the scheme, you’ll get a 25% discount off your next pair.
When they’re not designing, the team get involved with beach cleans around the UK. They also donate £1 from each pair to the Marine Conservation Society. They recently also became B-Corp certified and members of 1% For the Planet.
It Takes Us All, so Let’s Get Behind Them!
These British brands using upcycled plastic are revolutionising manufacturing by using materials with a low environmental cost. In doing so, they’re sparking a global conversation about the environmental impacts of consumerism. And encouraging us all to rethink our buying habits in the process.
As consumers we have a massive amount of power.
If we support sustainable models such as these, we’ll be sending out a strong message to the leading brands who have yet to take action.