We started as clueless idealists
When we started our journey in 2003 , we naievely believed that making single use packaging from plants was the perfect solution, it's good for the planet , it's great for convience and it's completely circular, since those early days we have learnt a lot and one of those things is , there is a large system in place to keep the status quo , we recieve a lot of negative PR as the media pushes the "You are awful and killing the planet" (it's not a lost battle you just need to be empowered with the right information) narrative and large numbers of the mininformed that push a reusable narrative as the best option ( it isn't environmentally or socially) and this is something we never expected, It's been a stranger journey than we were expecting.
If you need a few examples here they are ( although we could of added a lot more).
So what changed
When we started the world wasn't aware and was apathetic about the damage of single use plastics and then Blue Planet came along and the world woke up and then the assault started, as soon as Sir David pointed out the problem in his program Blue Planet.
So how did the media respond to this, not the way you think , there was an assault on the individual , saying they were the problem , " you use a disposable cup" , you are the problem.
"You use a disposable straw" you are the problem.
So did they inform people with the knowledge that their are option, no they just highlighted the problem ( Hugh's War on Waste springs instantly too mind).
So we had the problem with out the solution , what a better way to disengage people and create a malaise of indifference , when all anyone needed was their options.
We hate the current narrative of telling the media who digest their media outputs that you are irresponsible and a bad citizen ( your not ) , telling you there is nothing you can do ( there is ) and you need to restrict your life styles in order to save the planet ( you don't , just make wise well informed choices).
The problem is with wise well informed choices , you need to know what they are.
So what do you do when you have been misinformed , you need to understand the problem and the solution.
So what sort of thing are we referring too
So here we were on Facebook when some poor fella from Greenpeace made the almighty mistake of talking about the solution to the problem of single use plastic waste and not propogating the myth of powerlessness ( I will add this isn't one of our products, ours are better but I would say that).
So let's address some of the points.
"I use a re-usable cup and it's better for the environment"
This is a bit of a UK centric obsession to the problem , petrol based plastic are the problem , so let's reuse, as this is better and on the surface it seems like a good option, but is it?
1. Why should you not be able to go and buy your coffee on the way to work , there is nothing wrong with buying that coffee, just make the cups from plants, simple when you think of it.
2. It's either going to be a plastic cup which can't be recycled or a bamboo cup with a silicone lid that will never break down , so what happens to it after repeatedly adding hot contents and then letting it cool down , it's going to weaken and break so what do we do with it when it no longer is fit for it's use, we send it to landfill or Energy for Waste facilities , or even worse , we send it abroad.
"Compostable plant based materials actually cause more issues"
This one always comes as a surprise as we have been using and composting plants for millenium , in fact the basis of PLA ( corn based plastics) Latic acid was first discovered in 1789 , so it's been around a lot longer than you think.
The main argument is that the UK can't sort plant based materials in their waste, it's not about can't, but it is all about won't .
There are excellent Companies like First Mile already turning compostable packaging into compost but the missing link is the consumer , when they take it home, what happens to it.
If our system worked well it should be sorted by UV systems that sort the waste, the problem with this is, it requires investment and thats the bit the waste industry doesn't want to admit.
So the reality is , it can be disposed of responsibly , it's more about won't, this is the bit that legilsation ( sadly the UK has really messed up with its new plastic tax as this allows the reuse of plastics at the expense of making them from materials that benefit the environment) and the consumer making the right choices can turn the won't to a must do.
"The UK lacks the facilities to compost plant based packaging"
This is sadly a very common untruth ( sometimes it's a plain lie and other times it's ignorance of the facilities that exist in the UK) , we have the facilities to compost our current levels of compostable packaging and when the market grows, these facilities can be expanded.
A good example of this happening is Envar a company doing amazing things
"PLA actually damages the environment"
This is a surprising and often repeated statement and people quite often quote selectively from this article but although this is a well researched article ( very usual for the BBC) it follows the narrative that , because we don't do the right thing with our waste ( the fact that we export so much of it, just proves the point) we shouldn't use the solution, this doesn't make a lot of sense but on the surface is very good at muddying the waters.
"Biodegradable is better than compostable"
This is an argument people use who don't really understand the legality of the term Biodegradable in the UK and abroard.
If you live in Australia and France, who actually have a legal definition then it means something but in the rest of the world , biodegradable just means it breaks down in the natural environment in less than 10,000 years, we can only think of three things that don't , Plutonium rods, silicone and glass, so it doesn't really mean anything.
All compostable products are biodegradable but not all biodegradable products are compostable , so simply compostable is the only circular and planet friendly option, they are made from plants after all.
I just want to add that someone will point out we describe our products as biodegradable and this is true , they are, we would prefer to just call them compostable as this means something but the consumer doesn't understand the difference , so we have to use the term people use.
So to sum all of this up and offer some clarity.
1. Reusable is never better , this is just deferring the problem for the future and putting barriers in people's way.
2. You can have convience without environmental offsetting as long as the products you use are made from plants.
3. The fact that the UK and other countries are not handling their waste correctly, is not an excuse for more of the same, we have had customers use our cups are plant pots , all packaging should have the option of being used in the natural environment in a positive way.
4. Compostable packaging can be sorted using UV so it doesn't have to damage the sorting process, it just requires investment.
5. The ability to drive change is in your hands , if you encourage your favourite take-away to use compostable packaging , the change will come.
*this article is the view of the individual and does not automatically represent the view of The Pure Option™ but probably does.
Article written by Charles Richardson on the 05th Jan 2022.