We recently launched some content which featured our products (refill) versus regular supermarket alternatives (landfill). These posts have generated quite a bit of debate, which is a good thing! It’s important to talk about it.
So where we are coming from is quite simple, and it is really what inspired us to launch Bower in the first place. Fundamentally, recycling is broken. The widely accepted - honest - figure is that only 9% of plastic is successfully recycled globally*. The rest, sadly, ends up being incinerated (bad - releasing carbon and toxins into the atmosphere), landfill (also bad, leaching toxins into the ground and water system) or the natural environment (the worst).
There are so many factors that impact on what happens to your waste. One is a massive postcode lottery, some local authorities are just way better at handling waste than others, due to budgets, facilities, etc. Then there is the market for recyclates, i.e. what people are prepared to pay for recycled plastic material - this is really volatile and more often than not it just doesn’t pay to recycle the material (unlike glass and aluminium which hold their value much better).
Also, some of you may know that the UK used to just ship all of our waste out in HUGE volumes to South East Asia. Where most of it, sadly, ended up in rivers and eventually the ocean. This is now much more complex too as China and then lots of other countries shut the door on waste imports. Inevitably the waste ends up in countries with very limited infrastructure or ability to properly deal with it.
So when we put a picture of a supermarket product under the word ‘Landfill’, it is meant to provoke people to think about the choices they make. Just because a product says ‘Widely Recycled’, does not in any way mean it will ever be recycled! Even worse is when they say ‘Check Local Recycling’ which is really unhelpful, who has the time to do that?!
That is why at Bower we are focused on the reuse of materials. Yes, our refill pouches are made out of a durable plastic, this is so we can reuse them multiple times, and as long as our customers keep returning them to us in the pre-paid returns envelopes, then we guarantee that those pouches will be reused or properly recycled by our specialist partner.
We don’t want to put anyone off recycling, far from it, but it’s important to be clear-eyed about the reality so that we can continue to make better choices about the products we buy for our homes and families.
Just this week, the big news from America is that Greenpeace is suing Walmart for lying about their plastic products being recyclable. This could prove to be a landmark case so we are keeping a close eye on it!
*Multiple sources including National Geographic, The Guardian, Huffington Post