23 Apr Rising tides of change: meet the next eco enemies
The war against plastic is on. Whether you’re a life-long environmentalist or caught in the ripple effect of Blue Planet II, it’s hard not to see that the UK public consciousness (and conscience) has been ignited. The government has hinted at action, proposing a ban on plastic stirrers, straws and cotton buds, while brands like Waitrose and Costa Coffee have announced initiatives to tackle waste from disposable coffee cups. Around the world, Greenpeace is calling for the elimination of all non-recyclable plastic within the next 12 months, and Kenyans found using, selling or producing single-use plastic bags are now subject to a $40,000 fine.
Of course, the issue of waste and pollution in all forms has big implications for brands. Consumers are increasingly demanding not just a sustainable product, but a fully responsible lifecycle – and placing the onus for change squarely on manufacturers.
As awareness and demand for action accelerates, we asked around the Mash Studio: what products or habits are next on the hit list? What could they mean for your brand?
“Single use packaging must be on the way out – from unwrapping products in the supermarket to taking your own containers to fast food outlets, canteen style. And I believe the medical world is another huge area that will soon be hit. How do we make single-use hospital products – which mostly end up in landfill – more recyclable, while still sterile and safe?” – Olga
“Packaging is a key issue – from single-use doy sachets (think baby food and cat food) to styrofoam in deliveries. I think plastic cutlery, non-biodegradable cling film and plastic nappies and wet wipes will all be at risk too.
A big area of concern is fast fashion – worryingly, most people throw away old clothes rather than give to charity shops. The average life cycle of an item of clothing is just 3.3 years, with some shocking examples of even shorter lifespans, like Christmas jumpers. I don’t think it’s so much as a ban, as a real shift in how we treat consumables. The rise in ‘repair cafes’ also indicates a bigger desire to own things that last and fix them when they break, rather than buying new ones.
And unrelated to waste, but definitely one to watch is preservatives in food – we are increasingly seeing information on food processing, and there are rising concerns over the safety of foods containing a cocktail of artificial ingredients, even if each one is safe on its own. I’d expect growing scrutiny here, and increasing health-led regulation in general.” – Lisa
“I think/hope the way we buy daily household goods will change dramatically. There will be a ban on all unnecessary plastic packaging on food (e.g. fruit like bananas sold in plastic bags, cabbages/broccoli wrapped in plastic etc.) and we’ll see more refill stations for personal care and household products, as well as bulk buying options for dry foods like oats/pasta where you bring your own containers.” – Millie
“I think there is soon to be a backlash or ban on the amount of excess packaging used when transporting products, particularly concerning online deliveries. I expect services like Amazon Lockers to become more established as consumer awareness grows and people begin to consciously avoid companies that don’t offer more eco-friendly delivery options.” – Emily
“Sachets as a format feel at risk – these are key to how you democratise some products in D&E markets. How do you balance this with the horrible environmental impact they have? In general, will the entire ‘single serve’ culture be at threat? It’s become a core pillar of convenience-led innovation, but flies in the face of this broader trend.
And obviously water in general is a dangerous one here. Will water purifiers (or devices that make water fizzy) eat into the market for bottled water? Can people really justify buying 24 packs of bottled water for long? Wonder what Evian is thinking right now…” – Conrad
“I think the feminine care sector is ripe for disruption as a huge source of landfill waste. 100 billion period products are thrown away every year, but things are starting to change as Millennial women start to look for solutions that work better for them as well as the environment. New reusable products such as the Mooncup are growing in popularity, while a whole host of small brands are popping up offering biodegradable and recyclable options, which also have the benefit of containing fewer chemicals than mainstream alternatives.” – Liana
Keen to explore what the changing face of Sustainability could mean for your brand? Get in touch, we’d love to talk.