Does anybody remember Earth Day?
Tomorrow will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the very first Earth Day. The realities of social distancing rules and stay-at-home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will make this year’s event unlike any in history.
The official Earth Day site is calling on people from all over the world to join in a wide range of digital events. The site makes the point that nations may have been unprepared for the novel coronavirus, but there is still time to prepare for the climate crisis that is growing daily.
“If we don’t demand change to transform our planet and meet our climate crisis, our current state will become the new normal — a world where pandemics and extreme weather events span the globe, leaving already marginalized and vulnerable communities even more at risk.”
In preparation for Earth Day, the Consumer Brands Association has released its policy platform for a nationally or regionally standardized recycling program.
“With nearly 10,000 programs and unique sets of rules complicating America’s recycling system today, we have created an unsustainable morass that confuses consumers and drastically increases contamination,” Meghan Stasz, vice president, packaging and sustainability, Consumer Brands Association, said in a statement. “Our industry is building on its decades of global experience in policy and smarter packaging to provide a blueprint for the type of functioning recycling system that consumers and the environment deserve.”
The industry group points to already low recycling rates and “global market forces” that will likely result in more waste. Part of its solution, the group maintains, is to replace the current system for regulating recycling with a “market-based” system that is simpler for consumers to understand and which will, in turn, improve participation rates.
“Recycling is not the final or only solution to our packaging challenges, but without a functioning recycling system, there is no second life for valuable material — it’s just trash, or worse, pollution,” said Ms. Stasz.
An article from last August on the Earth Day site argues that if we continue to produce single-use plastics at the current rate, we will never rid ourselves of the problem. After decades of recycling efforts, there is more waste than ever before. The solution is to limit the use of plastics to only areas where it is absolutely necessary, such as in medical supplies, and “a few types of food packaging.” Even in these cases, only “the most highly recyclable plastics” should be used.
- Earth Day 2020 – Earth Day
- CPG Industry Calls for Standardized Recycling System – Consumer Brands Association
- Achieving America’s Recycling Future – Consumer Brands Association
- The Recycling Problem: A Feel-Good Story That’s Too Good To Be True – Earth Day
- Will the coronavirus change how we use plastic packaging? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of the Consumer Brands Association’s proposal for a standardized recycling program? What actions would you like to see from the consumer goods and retailing industries in support of Earth Day principles?