In 1972, the year Real Murcia released their first short-sleeved kit and a Uruguayan plane with 45 people on board crashed in the Andes (16 survived, and it later inspired the film ‘The Way They Live’), the General Assembly of The United Nations has designated June 5 as World Environment Day, which aims to raise awareness on the planet about the importance of caring for ecosystems and promoting respect for the environment. Half a century later, this spirit remains at the helm, awakening the cooperation of administration, companies and society to act as active agents in sustainable development through transformative measures.
This year, World Environment Day focuses on solutions to plastic pollution. The ‘triple R’ – reduce, reuse and recycle – has been instilled into the productive fabric of the policies and decisions of governments and to achieve their environmental and corporate social responsibility objectives. This commitment, in turn, allows them to improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint.
It is estimated that more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced on the planet every year and half of this material is meant to be used once in a lifetime. The United Nations recalls that less than 10% of plastic waste generated worldwide is recycled each year and that between 19 and 23 million tonnes of this waste ends up in lakes, rivers and oceans, which is the equivalent of about 2,200 Eiffel Towers. Equals weight. Together.
The problem does not end there, as microplastics (plastic particles less than 5 mm in diameter) are present in food, water and even in the air. In fact, it is thought that people swallow more than 50,000 microparticles each year, a figure that may increase when looking at inhaled particles.
The commitment to the environment through ecodesign has also become incorporated into the production chain and consumption habits. The packaging is currently designed and manufactured keeping in mind greater sustainability norms, using less raw material and reducing environmental impact. Ecodesign covers the entire life cycle of a product from concept to disposal. As such, for a ‘packaging’ to be considered sustainable, it must be biodegradable, reusable, recyclable and manufactured with recycled materials through sustainable processes.
In this regard, ecodesign measures adopted by clothing producers seek to reduce the environmental impact of their containers, either by reducing the use of plastics and other materials used in their manufacture, or by promoting the circularity of the containers, or So by making them more easily recyclable and reintroducing already recycled material into them.
Experts propose to tackle the problem of plastic pollution by resorting to scientific advances and existing solutions. Thus, the private sector and other interested parties focus their efforts and investments on the implementation of production processes, technology and innovations that result in products made from recycled materials and, above all, that are reusable.
Many brands in the beverage industry have chosen to replace the plastic rings that bind soda or beer cans to packs with resistant and biodegradable cardboard rings. The move towards ‘deplasticisation’ of one of the most consumed products represents a significant achievement, as images of fish, turtles and other marine species trapped by plastic rings live on in the collective memory. Causes serious injury such as death by suffocation. Similarly, hotels have swapped out the plastic wrappers, protectors and utensils available in their rooms and common areas for other, more sustainable elements.
For their part, supermarkets join the campaign to eliminate plastic from their stores, which aims to further reduce plastic, make all packaging recyclable and recycle plastic waste. In the fruit and vegetable segment, fruit and vegetable foods are being packaged with kinder materials such as cardboard or biodegradable containers. Single-use bags and single-use plastic disposables, such as plates, glasses and straws, are also on the way out. Another commitment is to recycle 100% of plastic waste from physical stores and even home delivery and online sales. To complement this environmental strategy, companies run training programs for their employees to guarantee a high level of compliance.
These good practices confirm that pressing the sustainability button helps not only in taking care of the environment, but also in generating added value and differentiating from the competition. According to a survey conducted by PwC, nearly two-thirds of consumers declare their preference for a specific brand based on its environmental policies, indicating that there is good market acceptance for incorporating environmental concepts into business plans. , as well as the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is now an engine of profit. The study shows that more than half of those surveyed have dismissed some firms for not offering fair working conditions and another significant portion have done the same for social causes they support. did.
It is well known that plastic is one of the materials that takes the longest to decompose, taking anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years to decompose completely. Because if the problem is not resolved, in just two decades 1.3 billion tons of plastic will fill the oceans and land.
A day that invites reflection
World Environment Day is celebrated every 5 June with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of protecting and guaranteeing the health of the planet and its natural resources. Without doubt, it is the largest global platform for environmental disclosure, and is celebrated by millions of people around the world. Since its establishment by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the day.
The host country for this edition, Ivory Coast, vie for a leadership position in the campaign against single-use plastics, in collaboration with the Netherlands. In fact, it banned the use of plastic bags in 2014 and has been supporting the change towards reusable containers, wraps and packaging.