With a growing demand to increase the sustainable attributes of consumer products, “innovation” is the name of the game in almost every industry – including plastics.
What’s New – And Why?
Innovations in plastics are aplenty, and many of them involve technically intensive lingo and terminology that we’re probably not qualified to comment on here (polymer nanocomposites, anyone?). But to give it to you short and sweet, here are a few concepts that we’re particularly excited to see roll out:
- Greater use of easily recycled materials - Of all the plastics you can recycle, PET offers one of the most widely available recycling options. And rather than develop new types of plastics, some companies are opting to increase the chance their product will be recycled by using materials widely collected, like plastic #1. For example, Sprint recently updated its accessory packaging, which is now made from PET, a plastic that’s easier to recycle than its predecessor, PVC.
- Greater use of bioplastics – While the jury is still out on the benefits of bioplastic materials (stay tuned for a new article next month where we explore this topic in greater depth!), the idea that natural materials are being used to substitute fossil fuels is intriguing. Additionally, innovative products are rolling out on the market this year. Now, consumers may have the opportunity to compost plastic at home, something we hadn’t seen before.
- Increased use of post-consumer waste – Sometimes, the easiest plastic to get is the plastic that’s already in the form you need. Many companies are opting to find ways to continually improve their use of recycled materials, like Nestle’s re-source water bottle project. But ideally, product-to-product life cycles (for example, the bottle-to-bottle paradigm Coca-Cola Recycling is adopting with its new plant) are the wave of the future.