Working closely with plastics recycling firm Closed Loop Recycling and Waste Free Oceans (WFO), Ecover will be working with fishing communities to collect plastic from the seas around the UK and reintroduce it into the recycling chain via its bottles.
Ecover announced its new initiative, to create an entirely new plastic by 2014, at an event in London yesterday (6 March).
Speaking to Packaging News, Ecover chief executive Philip Malmberg said its new initiative was a ‘game-changer’, as well its past packaging initiatives.
He explained: “Our real aim is to raise awareness. This will create awareness of recycled material and the plastic soup in the ocean. With simple ways we can do a lot to overcome these problems.
“If we can do it then anybody can do it and others should follow our lead on this because we are making significant steps forward.”
Using existing fishing trawls and new technology, WFO will engage Europe’s fishing community in cleaning up floating marine debris and bring it back to land for recycling and sorting. Initially, waste plastic will be collected from the seas around the UK.
Boats outfitted with a special trawl will be able to collect between 2-8 tonnes of waste (per trawl) for cleaning & recycling. Using the knowledge of fishermen and home-grown technology, the project aims to educate all stakeholders in tackling debris on Europe’s coastlines and waters by 2020.
This initiative has led to Closed Loop Recycling undertaking trials with Ecover for a new type of plastic using rHDPE, plantastic and the waste marine plastic that is collected as part of the project. Closed Loop will process the RHDPE and sea plastic.
The announcement of Ecover’s ambition to launch a new plastic follows a series of packaging changes from the company including the launch of 100% sugarcane-derived plastic –Plantastic. This sugarcane-derived plastic is made by Brazilian firm Braskem.
Speaking to Packaging News about Ecover’s new plans, innovation manager Tom Domen said it was important to address the littering issue. He also said that this initiative would give economical value to recycled plastics.
However, he said that the firm did not yet know what percentage of sea waste would be used in the pack.
Domen said the idea first was formed when he attended an environmental meeting at Rio de Janeiro entitled ‘Plasticity’. He added: “Of course you have to do something on the prevention side but at the same time the problem is there already, so we have to do something to clean it up.”
Chris Dow concurred with Domen and told PN: “This is a very exciting step by another major brand. Another major brand is sprucing the value of using recycled plastic to reduce our reliance on oil-based resins.”
He said the sea plastic will go through the same processing as conventional rPET. He added that early indications show that there was no effect on the finished product.
When asked if the new initiative could potentially have an adverse effect and cause more people to drop litter in the sea, Dow responded: “You can say that about street sweepers. Do street sweepers cause litter? I would think that this will urge people to think about our oceans and how they are contaminated by people throwing litter on the street that then flows into our seas and the consequences of that.”
Malmberg said: “We don’t want to preach to the converted. We want to give this issue broader attention to a broader audience of people. We want to reach people who have the willingness to help improve the situation but are not informed about what a brand like us does compared to other brands.”