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Plastic: from functional product to global problem

Did you know that a lot of our plastic waste ends up in the worlds oceans? Additionally, plastic production is expected to increase by 40% over the next 10 years. As a result, the seas will become increasingly choked by our waste. It’s called the plastic soup. If we do nothing by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea in terms of weight than fish. The United Nations warns that marine life will be irreparably destroyed and the plastic soup will endanger the food supply of millions of people.  (source: www.plasticsoupfoundation.org). 

The plastic soup, also known as the plastic archipelago or floating rubbish dump, is an area in the north of the Pacific Ocean where enormous amounts of plastic and other waste float together.
“ The Petvilt story ”
A step back in time
In the middle of the 19th century, plastic as we know it was invented and it’s use exploded. Between 1950 and 2017, 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced. If we look at the European figures, we see that the average European consumption of plastic in 2016 was 24 kilos per inhabitant. 
The figures
Now, let's get this straight. Because what exactly are we talking about? What exactly does the use of plastic mean?



The mountain of plastic waste is getting bigger and bigger and if we don't do something about it, the future doesn't look good. Plastic that becomes waste, ends up in the ocean, on large garbage dumps in Asia or is eventually even eaten by wildlife in and around these places. We can either close our eyes to this destruction or do something about it.

 
Only 1 in 4 plastic bottles are recycled.
Where does all that plastic come from? Every second 20,000 plastic bottles are sold worldwide. That's 1 million a minute and 480 billion a year. That’s just plastic bottles, there are countless other products in which plastic is used. Only a small percentage of these products is recycled so there is a lot to be gained by making producers responsible for the end of life phase of their products. They remain the owners of the plastic they have sold and must take it back after use. Extended Producer Responsibility, also known as EPR, aims to reduce the overall environmental impact of a product. The products are returned or collected after use, so that the raw materials can be reused.
European standards
The EU is aware of the 'plastic danger' and in recent years has drawn up mandatory guidelines to reduce plastic waste.

The guidelines in brief
The European Commission has drawn up the SUP-directive (Single Used Plastic) to combat disposable plastic in the sea. All EU member states must incorporate this directive into their legislation. (source: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/afval/europese-richtlijn-voor-minder-wegwerpplastic-in-zee-sup-richtlijn).
  • From 2021 onwards, member states must ensure less use of plastic in on-the-go packaging (such as drinking cups and food containers);
  • From 2021, there will be a ban on certain disposable plastic products. For example, plastic plates, plastic cutlery, plastic stirrers and straws;
  • From 2024, caps and lids must be attached to plastic bottles and beverage containers. In this way, they will be automatically handed in for recycling;
  • From 2025, PET bottles must consist of at least 25% recycled plastics. By 2030, this must be at least 30%;
  • From 2021 there will be a further requirement for hygiene products such as wet wipes, tampons and sanitary towels, tobacco products and drinking cups. How to dispose of the waste from these products will be stated in this regulation. It will also contain information about the plastics in the product and what effect this has on the environment;
  • Producers will be responsible for (litter) waste from a number of their products. This includes beverage and food packaging, drinking cups, light plastic bags, moist wipes, tobacco products (with filters), balloons and fishing gear. Producers must, among other things, take care of the collection, transport and processing of these plastic products. They must also raise consumer awareness;
  • By 2025, a minimum of 77% of all plastic drinking bottles up to 3 litres must be collected. In 2029 this must be at least 90%;
  • The government will provide consumers with information about reusable alternatives to these plastic products. And about possibilities for good waste management (how to dispose of waste). Consumers will also receive information about the impact of this plastic waste on the environment.
How do we make a difference?
Europe has done their part, now it's up to us as producers and consumers. We can no longer hide behind 'cost motives' or an argument such as 'we are only a small part of total pollution'. No, we have to work with our own products and take responsibility. As mentioned earlier, only 1 in 4 plastic bottles finds its way back to recycling so we must all look at ourselves and develop new methods to complete the full circle with our products. Literally from cradle to cradle. Reducing waste, reusing products and recycling materials

"We are the first manufacturer of ergonomic accessories to bring a circular line, a laptop stand, document holders and monitor stands, to market. Each product is made from recycled raw materials (PET) and conforms to the 3 pillars of circularity; RECYCLE, REDUCE and REUSE. The ergonomic products can be returned to us at the end of their lifetime in exchange for a discount on new BakkerElkhuizen products purchased from their supplier. We can then ensure they are recycled again and create new products with an equal lifespan." says John van Hooft, CEO BakkerElkhuizen and ErgoDirect.
 
A better environment begins...
We still have big steps to take together to reduce plastic waste. We know that the BakkerElkhuizen circular line makes a small contribution and we will continue to develop new ways to increase our contribution in the years to come. That is our commitment to the planet and future generations. Additionally we are also reviewing our product packaging, the packaging tape, the product label, the pallet foil and the pallet itself. These are all made from recycled raw materials and form a circular cycle. With every circular ergonomic product from BakkerElkhuizen, 2.5-5 plastic litre bottles are permanently extracted from the plastic soup. What can you do about the plastic soup?
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