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What does it mean to be plastic neutral?

September 1, 2022

What does it mean to be plastic neutral?

With corporate social responsibility becoming central to the mission of many companies, the needle continues to move toward a greener future. While many organizations are embracing carbon neutrality, plastic neutrality is coming into the global sustainability conversation.

But, what is plastic neutrality? This guide will break it down for you.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • What is plastic neutrality?
  • How to Become a Plastic-Neutral Individual
  • How to Become a Plastic Neutral Business
  • Moving Toward a Plastic Neutral Future

What is plastic neutrality?

Plastic neutrality is a sustainable practice that’s slowly rising in popularity. Plastic neutrality means recycling the same weight of plastic that a person produces or business operations consume, sell, or dispose of.

There are millions of tons of plastic floating in the ocean. Most of the plastic used each day ends up in landfills instead of being recycled. In landfills, plastic can take nearly one thousand years to decompose.

With toxins from plastic entering the soil and water and microplastics filling our oceans, plastic neutrality is an important consideration on both the business and individual levels. Taking steps to reduce our use of plastic is only one small way to help reverse the effects of plastic pollution.

Plastic neutrality, if embraced by corporations as well as individuals, could turn the tides.

Become a plastic-neutral individual

You don’t have to be a corporation to go plastic neutral or contribute to a circular plastic supply.

An average person produces around 69 kg to 221 kg of plastic waste every year, and only 9% of that waste is recycled. Most of it ends up in landfills, in the oceans, or gets burned, causing significant damage to the environment.

By becoming plastic-neutral, you will be contributing to keeping your community and the oceans clean, thus creating a more sustainable future for everyone. But, how do you become plastic-neutral?

There are organizations, such as our teams at Second Life, that will help you reduce your plastic waste footprint. By purchasing different amounts of plastic credits, you can sponsor the recycling of plastic waste that wouldn’t have been recycled otherwise.

But it doesn’t end there. These are other things you can do to reduce your plastic footprint every day:

Use reusable alternatives to single-use products

Whether you’re using canvas shopping bags, reusable straws, or purchasing items made with recycled materials, there are many alternatives to single-use products. Consider also selecting items made from recycled plastic.

Purchase products made with plastic-free packaging

Selecting products that use plastic-free materials might seem daunting, but there are many products out there that have this option. Companies like Zero Waste Club specialize in plastic-free packaging for items like soap, nonperishables, and other household goods.

Become a plastic neutral business

As the global concentration on sustainability and green practices for businesses continues to grow, taking steps to offset your plastic footprint will demonstrate a deep commitment to the cause.

It also offers your company a way to make a difference in your community and world while engaging your employees individually and as a collective. Going completely plastic neutral can be difficult for any business. Still, there are many ways to begin the plastic-neutral journey.

Do your research

Before you begin to make a plan to embrace plastic neutrality, it’s first important to understand how your business uses plastic. Calculating your plastic footprint will help set the stage for developing a plan of action. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are your products packaged in single-use plastics?
  • Do you have an established company recycling program?
  • Have you engaged employees on the topic of plastic neutrality?
  • Where can you reduce your use of plastic in your office location?
  • What have other businesses in your industry done to reduce their plastic footprint?

Engage with your employees

For a business to succeed on the path to carbon neutrality, it must have buy-in from its stakeholders. While your first thought might be investors or the Board or executive officers, your employees are also central to your success.  Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you surveyed employees to understand their sustainability concerns?
  • Are there feedback mechanisms in place for employees and other stakeholders to offer ideas and suggestions for reducing plastic usage?
  • Do your employees have a clear view of what plastic neutrality means and how they can contribute to the efforts of your business?

Develop an Actionable Plan

Once you understand the ground state, you can begin to develop your plan to gain plastic neutrality. Thinking of your plan in terms of phases–easy wins and longer-term goals–can help streamline the process:

  • Determine your objectives and how you will measure success.
  • Get buy-in from your Board and other stakeholders.
  • Create a task force to ensure the project has oversight.
  • Engage with organizations that specialize in helping companies navigate this process.
  • Work to establish short-term and long-term plans.

Moving Toward a Plastic Neutral Future

While embracing plastic neutrality can feel intimidating, planning for the future now will ensure your business reaches its goals and stays at the front of the sustainability conversation.

At Second Life, we empower companies to reduce plastic waste around the world by helping your company offset every kilogram of plastic waste produced each year. We’ve already helped several businesses embrace a circular plastic supply. We offer certified plastic-neutral packages where each credit purchased sponsors a kilogram of plastic recovered or recycled.

Make a difference today. Get in touch with our team to discuss how your business can enter the global circular plastic supply.