Toward a Circular Economy: Trash Picking
Over half of the world’s population doesn’t have a formal waste disposal scheme in place. One hundred years ago, when the ubiquitous material known as plastic had not yet been invented this may have been okay. People composted; containers were made of paper, cardboard, cloth, glass, and other materials that broke down readily. Today, everything seems to be made of plastic which is sturdy and shatter-resistant and lasts for a thousand years — literally.
And that’s the problem. Plastic’s long shelf life is an anathema on the planet because no one wants to take the time to sort it all out. On our current trajectory, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, certainly not a sustainable course, right, but what to do when the product that has become so entrenched?
Luckily, when there’s a need, the market fills it. Enter The Body Shop and their partnership with Plastics for Change and their offspring: fair trade plastics. Both companies are certified by the World Fair Trade Organization and that their union would have produced such a happy and bountiful offspring was really just a matter of time. Here’s how it works.
Plastics for Change connects trash pickers — of which there are about 1.5 million world-wide — and global markets, ensuring that supply will always meet demand, and provides over 6,000 tons (!) of plastic everyday for recycling.
Okay, I know. Trash-picking is probably the least glamorous job around, but if you are living in Bengaluru as one of India’s Dalits, a member of the lowest, or “untouchable” class whose economic standing means they have next to nothing, including basic necessities like housing and access to clean water, then you are happy for a job sanctioned by the World Fair Trade Organization because it will comply with the 10 fair trade principles.
The Body Shop then uses a portion of the recycled plastic to make the plastics that contain products we love. And not to worry — several years went into assuring quality control. As the program grows, so will the percentage of Fair Trade Plastics, a win for the market, the economy, and the planet. Read the full article here.
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pam lazos 1.31.20