Did you know that Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year? Or that only around about 23 percent of plastic bottles get recycled? There’s a plastic pandemic, and things are only going to get worse. Now, some organizations are taking action — they’ve declared war on plastic waste. Here are three that you need to know about.
1. Houston Zoo
Houston, we have a problem: Plastic water bottles.
Back in October 2017, Houston Zoo announced it was banning plastic bottles from its gift shops and cafes. Customers will now have two options: They can purchase a reusable aluminum water bottle or recyclable paper-based bottle made from renewable resources.
“The elimination of single-use plastic water bottles will have a significant wildlife- saving impact on the environment by reducing the amount of plastic waste by nearly 300,000 single-use plastic bottles in just one year,” says Ban the Bottle.
Houston Zoo is no stranger to reducing plastic waste. In 2016, they removed plastic bags from their gift shops to protect species in the wild.
As plastic waste becomes a bigger problem, could other metropolitan zoos follow Houston’s lead? If they do, they might opt for metal water bottles instead, which are durable and much better for the environment.
2. Hong Kong University
Last year, Hong Kong University, one of the world’s leading educational institutions, announced it was banning single-use plastic water bottles from its campus offices, restaurants, shops, and vending machines. The goal? To get its 30,000 students to think twice about plastic waste.
“While other universities had similar initiatives and recycling programs, HKU is understood to be first to announce a campus-wide ban,” says the South China Morning Post.
But that’s not all. The university could also ban takeaway boxes and plastic bags in the future. Hong Kong has long had a plastic pollution problem. The country disposes of 5.2 million bottles, which weigh a total of 136 tons, every single day.
Here in North America, more colleges are banning plastic and educating their students about the dangers of plastic waste. Winnipeg University was the first educational institution to ban plastic bottles in Canada, and Washington University in St Louis was the first to do so in the United States.
Starbucks recently declared that it was getting rid of plastic straws and replacing them with lids. They will also introduce alternative-material straws. When the company made the announcement on Twitter, thousands of people congratulated the brand for making a positive change.
“The Seattle-based coffee chain estimates that this move will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws a year across its more than 28,000 stores around the world,” says The Guardian.
The new lids will be made from a material called polypropylene — a plastic that can be recycled.
Starbucks isn’t the only company banning plastic straws. American Airline and Hyatt are introducing eco-friendly alternatives.
These organizations are taking plastic waste seriously. As more single-use water bottles and straws end up in landfill sites and the ocean, people are finally trying to address the problem. If you want to reduce plastic in your own organization, consider using metal packaging — like aluminum bottles and cans — instead. This way, you can do your bit for the environment.