Hello, my name is Sam and I don’t recycle. It’s been more than three years since I recycled anything, and I order nearly everything online. I’m excited to be here as the new associate editor for Flexible Packaging and Packaging Strategies, so let me explain myself. After all, I used to list “Eco Warrior” on my resume back in the day. More on that later.
I’m moving this month (yes, I’ve been saving all the boxes), and the first thing I did after signing the lease was to request a big, blue recycling bin from the city. When I got the keys to my new place, I brought along the recycling I collected over the past couple weeks and filled the bin to the brim. That’s because the city I was living in doesn't have curbside recycling service.
In the beginning, I would gather my recyclables and drive them to my former city’s drop-off dumpster every week. This changed when the city moved the location and I literally couldn’t find it after multiple Google searches. Then I became accustomed to having one less thing to do every week — thus, no more recycling. My Eco Warrior guilt has been haunting me ever since.
You see, when I worked for Lush Cosmetics I had the role of Eco Warrior — which involved sitting on a stepstool hunched over a mop bucket filled with soap and hot water to scrub clean all the black pots customers brought back. Five pots meant a free facemask, so they returned A LOT. Every. Day. Once clean, I would ship them back to Lush’s supplier where they are turned into a whole new batch of post-consumer recycled pots and used once again.
In its Annual Report 2021, Hi-Cone found that fewer than 9% of respondents regularly collect and transport materials to a collection facility — but 91% believed recycling plastic is beneficial to the environment and 80% of those who didn’t recycle all plastic would do so more frequently if they had more facilities and/or guidance. Fifty-nine percent stated that they do not know how to recycle some types of plastic packaging.
Working at Lush taught me the power packaging can have in creating a circular economy and educating consumers, and I was happily surprised to find out how much sustainability is at the forefront in the packaging industry. But, since packaging is only sustainable if consumers have the knowledge and the means to recycle it, I’d like to know what you think about the packaging industry’s role in sustainability, recycling programs and consumer education.