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With up to two years of COVID-19 prevention measures before possibly returning to pre-COVID life, we face a wave of single-use plastics like we have never seen before. Our front line of defense against this wave of plastic is a decimated recycling industry that was already facing challenges in selling our waste. We are ill-prepared to weather the storm and the lingering habits created during this era could set the circular economy and environmental progress back by decades.
We have all felt and seen the changes. Circular practices like bringing your own shopping bag or getting a fill of your own coffee cup simply aren’t possible in the environment of abundant caution that is necessary to limit spread. Positive new practices like the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have created a steep increase in single-use masks and gloves. And our only way to support our favourite local restaurants has been through delivery, which has also driven plastic waste consumption to new heights. In the US, this resulted in a 20% year over year increase in residential waste and recycling in March and April of 2020.
Our reliance on single-use plastic packaging and pretty poor performances in recapture through recycling programs has been problematic for years. COVID-19 is only exposing how bad things are. A system where manufacturers have no responsibility for the materials they dump into the marketplace is not working. COVID-19 is hammering home the need for us to build better systems to protect our most vulnerable people and our shared planet.
It is more important than ever that we use packaging materials that will no longer contribute to the degradation of our environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle is only getting us so far, and since 8-million tons of plastic is being dropped into our oceans every year, it's not far enough. This is why we have committed to manufacturing our daily care products in zero-waste packaging.
Wherever you are on your own low-to-no waste journey, we applaud every effort you make. Reusable masks, using local food markets, and supporting businesses that prioritize eco-friendly materials will all help reduce or eliminate extra waste creation as we navigate COVID together.