Closing the loop

Discussion in 'Plastic Waste Best Practices' started by BECostillo, May 21, 2014.

  1. BECostillo

    BECostillo Contributor Registered Member

    Who else agrees with what this guys says about not truly recycling unless you close the loop by buying recycled products?
  2. Andy

    Andy Administrator Waste Min Publisher 2013 Industrial Waste Survey Participant

    Hi BE-

    It's an interesting question, and I'd like to dig in a bit and break down a few things that occurred to me about the concept... I'm going to come at this from a few different angles: sustainability, messaging, product development and as a potential consumer.

    1) Product first. I tend to be pretty pragmatic when it comes to this kind of thing. Does the product do the job, functionally? It may seem overly simple, but here's why I say this: millions and millions of disposable baggies are used a year, as the page notes. That's both a huge opportunity and a massive mountain to climb. Unless the functionality is there, this product will, at best, be a curiosity to a small number of very sustainably minded people (who always have alternatives).

    Before you're going to convince people to use this thing, you have to convince them it is a solid alternative to ziplock bags. I would want to see what this looks like after 100 washings, etc... and if it IS designed for reuse, I would question the flat profile/pinched sides. If you're going to convince someone to reuse a container that holds food, it has to be easily washable without holding moisture or crumbs.

    People have different expectations of disposable vs reusable products (ie razors)... and you have to give them those extra reasons to keep something around (and not reach for the easy, disposable alternative). Throw a gusseted bottom or curved sides for easy reach-in and cleaning/drying, etc.

    Imagine if Nalgene made their reusable bottle look like a conventional disposable water bottle... the narrow neck would be hard to fill, it wouldn't be durable, etc. What this bag is doing is taking on the form factor of something disposable when it really probably shouldn't.

    We've got to remember that making something green and putting "eco" on it isn't enough... it has to do its job as a product.

    2) Upcycling vs recycling vs waste avoidance. I get Mr. Villarubia's point (and your question) about "you're not recycling fully until you use products from recycled material." I get that there's a little attempted flavor/slant of upcycling there in that the exterior is made from 100% recycled bottles, but I don't see that as super noteworthy/special in the hierarchy of what this product does. We recycle aluminum cans or plastic bottles... they are reground/blended/melted/etc process (depending on the wastestream) until they are in the highest commodity grade material possible. In this case, those plastic pellets from soda bottles are then used to create the exterior film. Here's my point: when you recycle virtually anything, it's going to a product of one type or another. That is certainly positive, but doesn't really excite me here.

    In the scope of the sustainability of this product, the point about the exterior film is an asterisk to me. Recycled content is a given in many, many products now.

    This product is all about waste avoidance... the highest form of sustainability. The best option is ALWAYS not making the waste in the first place. I'm looking at the tagline/message on the shirt, for example "made of recycled plastic bottles"... maybe partially, yes... but that's not the most "sustainable" part of this product. Got to keep the message/proposition tight.

    3) How does this compare to alternatives? It looks a little ungainly for something flat... which would put it up against the kind of reusable rigid containers you see everywhere. Why would someone use this product vs one of those rigid containers? Or multiple smaller containers within a canvas lunch bag.

    Thanks for posting!
    Last edited: May 21, 2014