Procter & Gamble (P&G), one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies, has recently announced that its Head & Shoulders shampoo bottles will be recyclable and manufactured using up to 25 per cent of plastics collected from the world’s oceans and waterways.
Now environmentally conscious consumers will be able to wash their hair but they while contributing to environmental protection efforts. The collected plastics will come from the world’s beaches, oceans, rivers and other waterways.
To make it possible, P&G has partnered with the recycling company TerraCycle whose founder, Tom Szaky, recently said to The Huffington Post that “It’s important to understand how big of a disaster ocean plastics are. It’s horrendous” adding that “It creates problems for animals that eat them or get trapped in them. It’s a crisis, and I don’t think people understand the scale of it.”
He explains that collecting plastics from the world’s oceans and waterways and getting them “From beach to bottle is an elaborate process.” Firstly, hundreds of different organisations, people and volunteers have to collect marine plastics before Terraycle can collect them up and sort them. Some of what is collected by TerraCycle – usually high-density polyethylene (HDPE) – is used by P&G to make bottles while the rest is used to make benches and picnic tables which are donated to non-profits.
Although, other companies used recycled materials to make their bottles, P&G is the first to used marine plastics in their production. Szaky believes that other companies might have been put off from doing so due to the fact that marine plastics are “notoriously hard to collect and process because it is scattered, degraded and often filled with junk.” P&Gs “beach plastic” bottles will first be sold to consumers in France but plans already exist to expand into other countries soon after.
The problem of wastage getting into the world’s oceans is a catastrophic environmental challenge. A recent report prepared by the World Economic Forum believes that “Plastics have become the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy” but “The current plastics economy has drawbacks that are becoming more apparent by the day.” If current trends continue it is expected that by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastics than fish. Each year, around 8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the wold’s oceans which is the equivalent to one garbage truck full of waste being poured into the ocean every single minute.
In response to this global challenge Szaky believes that consumer habits and practices need to change. He feels that everyone can play a role and says “Make sure you recycle.” To do so you can “Go to your local conservancy and participate in cleanup efforts. And really think about what you buy – only buy what you need. Consumerism is behind many of our environmental problems.”