TerraCycle and Procter &Gamble (P&G), both international private companies, have partnered to create the world’s first shampoo bottle made from beach plastic that can be locally recycled after use. Working together with organizations to collect waste in the United Kingdom and France, this is one of the largest solutions dealing with ocean plastic in terms of volume and percentage.
The P&G product, Head & Shoulders shampoo is put into bottles made from 25% high density polyethylene recovered from beaches, are recyclable, and of a grey color that allows for mechanical sorting at a specialized plant that receives, separates and prepares recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers. P&G thus lowers its carbon footprint by using less virgin material in the bottle molding process, resulting in less oil extraction and greenhouse gas emissions.
- This is the largest production run of recyclable products made using plastic collected from beaches and is also the world's first recyclable shampoo bottle made from beach plastic;
- The Head & Shoulders shampoo bottles contain 25% beach plastic;
- It is estimated that plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes;
- Fishermen have reported that 92% had recurring problems with debris in nets, with each boat losing between $10,500 and $53,300 per year due to marine litter;
- In one year, an estimated 150,000 tonnes of marine plastic washed up on the shores of Japan.
30% of plastic in the ocean floats in open seas, often forming garbage patches or ends up washed ashore. Marine wildlife substitutes it for food, leading to starvation, suffocation, or internal damage. The degrading plastic is toxic to marine life, plankton, fish, and ultimately people, who ingest these highly toxic chemicals. Toxins can cause cancer, immune disorders, and birth defects, and chemicals can leach into soil and water. Plastic is accumulating in the oceans and coastal areas at an alarming rate, in addition to the average decomposition of plastics taking around 450 years.
TerraCycle and P&G have initiated a novel solution to the ever-increasing problem of plastic waste in and around coastal areas. In collaboration with NGOs and other organizations, plastic waste is being collected and delivered to local areas where it is recycled. P&G then use 25% of the recycled beach plastic in the manufacturing of their Head & Shoulders shampoo bottles. The project aids in avoiding some of the adverse impacts caused by plastic waste, as well as creating a new supply chain, raising awareness on this issue, and offering consumers a green choice.
Helping the planet
Plastic removal has many benefits for the marine and coastal environment, including: improved health of fish, birds, animals and people who rely on the ocean for food; reduction in animals suffering from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris; protecting ecosystems and habitats, preventing invasive species entering ecosystems; and the reduction of virgin plastic manufacture that not only contributes to greenhouse gases but requires oil extraction. Particulate matter released during extraction and refining chemicals can create algal blooms, which kill fish, marine mammals, and birds, and can be harmful to humans.
The project helps people who reside near polluted beaches and underdeveloped areas. For example, in one year, an estimated 150,000 tonnes of marine plastic washed up on the shores of Japan alone. The issue is just as prevalent in every corner of the world, from Southeast Asia to Latin America, and continues to increase at alarming rates. People’s health is improved as toxin ingestion is reduced. Cleaning such areas can also open them to tourism and other activities that drive economic growth. Additionally, if the water is cleaned of the plastic, the water quality improves. As consumers, people can become part of the solution and contribute to climate action when they purchase a bottle of P&G shampoo. There are hundreds of organizations (and thousands of individual collectors) participating in the beach plastic recycling program, ranging from small volunteer organizations to municipalities to harbors and ports. TerraCycle is able to support these collection efforts by providing collection supplies, covering the costs of transportation of the rigid plastics, and recycling the material at no cost to the collection organization.
The beach plastic program is scalable and replicable and TerraCycle's collection process can be applied to the many shorelines anywhere in the world. The main prerequisite is that the coastlines are accessible by boat or truck to be able to ship the recovered plastic to the sorting facilities. The initial project was launched in the UK and France with worldwide expansion in mind and the beach plastic collection has been expanded to other locations in Western Europe.
Since the joint announcement about the shampoo bottle, the demand for recycled beach plastic has been extraordinary. Beach collection programs are now underway on 6 continents and TerraCycle has created a mirrored supply chain in all major markets where they operate (North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America). The supply chain includes collection mechanics (from providing supplies to freight shipments of the plastic), processing steps, equipment used, product/bottle molding capabilities, and companies that want to use beach plastic in their products.
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