Walmart, Target, and CVS team up to reinvent single-use plastic bags

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First they came for plastic cups. Now they’re coming for plastic bags. In 2018, McDonald’s and Starbucks teamed up to create an eco-friendly alternative to the single-use soft drink cup. Coordinated by the investment firm Closed Loop Partners with support from the design studio Ideo, it was an unprecedented, joint effort between rivals to fix the ecological impact at the core of their business. Several of the resulting winners were piloted in stores earlier this year . Read Full Story

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The plastic bag is doomed. Here are better alternatives backed by Walmart and Target

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A $15 million investment from the biggest names in retail has surfaced nine compelling alternatives to the single-use plastic bag. Americans throw away 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year. And so in mid-2020, some of the country’s largest retailers—including Walmart, Target, Kroger, and CVS—teamed up on the Beyond the Bag Initiative . It was an ambitious plan to fund and scale replacements to the plastic bag. Read Full Story

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The plastic industry is using the coronavirus to fight plastic bag bans

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Bag bans that were supposed to go into effect have been halted in several states as the plastic industry plays up fears of infection from reusable bags (but doesn’t mention anything about infection from plastic ones). As the groundswell against single-use plastic has grown, a recent study about the new coronavirus could lend more ammunition: The virus, SARS-CoV-2, can live on plastic for two to three days , versus 24 hours on cardboard. (Another study that looked at related viruses, SARS and MERS, found that some lived on plastic as long as nine days.) But the plastic industry is also using the coronavirus crisis for the opposite reason, to argue that public health requires us to overturn bans on single-use plastic bags at stores. Read Full Story

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Lego is replacing its clear plastic bags with recyclable paper

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The company wants its packaging to be sustainable by 2025, so the crinkly bags have got to go. If you buy a Lego set today, the toy bricks come packed in tiny numbered plastic bags. Every year, the toy manufacturer uses hundreds of millions of those bags. But the company is starting to phase out single-use plastic, with the goal of making its packaging sustainable by 2025—and those bags are a big part of it. Next year, it will begin rolling out an alternative, with bricks packed in Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper instead. Read Full Story

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Starbucks is starting to work toward ditching disposable coffee cups

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A pilot in Seattle will offer customers reusable mugs. In South Korea, the company will phase out single-use cups entirely. If you get a cup of coffee at some Starbucks stores in Seattle, you now have the option of ordering it in a reusable takeout cup. The cup looks similar to the company’s plastic cups for cold drinks, but it’s designed to be sturdy enough for repeated reuse: When a customer returns a cup, it’s cleaned, sterilized, and ready for the next customer within 48 hours. Read Full Story

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This reusable ‘Origami Bottle’ folds to fit in your pocket

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Foldable, reusable packaging could accelerate the switch away from single-use plastics. If you push down on certain points on the new reusable water bottle called the Origami Bottle , the container collapses, folding up so it can easily fit in your bag or even squeeze inside your pocket. The design makes use of a unique geometrical structure that’s sturdy when unfolded—and holds 25 ounces of water—but quickly transforms when empty, with the aim of helping reusable packaging compete with single-use plastic. Read Full Story

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This folding coffee cup eliminates the need for a plastic lid

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Unocup won the Packaging category in the 2020 Innovation by Design Awards. Tom Chan was just a sophomore at Cooper Union in 2015 when he came up with the original Unocup concept: a single unit with an origami-like lid that you fold into place to seal liquid inside, eliminating the need for single-use plastic lids. Countless coffee-shop interviews and more than a thousand prototypes later, he and long-time friend Kaanur Papo founded Unocup, in 2019. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, they are now marketing their cup, a 100% plastic-free, compostable unit that replaces the traditional lid with paper folds that seal the drink tightly. “When people think of sustainable solutions,” Papo says, “they think of certain compromises that have to be made. What’s really exciting about this is that it’s a sustainable and practical solution at the same time.” Currently fulfilling small orders, ranging from 10 to 2,000 cups, that …

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This tableware made from bamboo and sugar waste biodegrades in 60 days

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As importantly, it’s nearly as cheap as plastic. Single-use tableware like cups, plates, and to-go containers are a huge source of waste. Even if they’re deemed compostable , they might still end up in a landfill, where they won’t break down without the specific conditions found in composting facilities. And eco-friendly food containers are often more expensive than plastic, and that upfront cost can be a barrier to adoption for both consumers and restaurants. Now, scientists say they’ve found a solution: tableware that can break down naturally in 60 days and is more affordable than compostable plastic, because it’s made out of sugarcane waste and bamboo. Read Full Story

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Why it’s so hard to recycle coffee cups—and why that’s finally starting to change

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Recycling companies are making a small change to their systems, which could dramatically increase what we’re able to recycle. Have you ever stood in front of the trash can with your Starbucks cup and wondered whether to toss it in the garbage or in the recycling bin? You’re not alone . Until recently, the right answer has often been the trash . Disposable coffee cups, milk cartons, takeout boxes, and other food packaging has a plastic lining to make sure liquids and oils don’t seep through. But most recycling systems in the U.S. aren’t designed to process these plastic-coated containers: The plastic can jam up recycling machines, and if the plastic somehow makes it through the process, paper mills won’t be able to use it. Read Full Story

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These refill stations now sell reusable aluminum bottles for the same price as single-use plastic

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FloWater wants to get people in the habit of not buying plastic. As water refill stations become more common, consumer habits of carrying reusable bottles haven’t necessarily kept up. That’s why FloWater, a company that makes refill stations, is now beginning to offer a new type of aluminum reusable bottle next to its equipment—for roughly the same cost as premium bottled water sold in single-use plastic. Read Full Story

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