Plastic and carbon credits are a way for businesses to offset their carbon emissions or plastic production and go “neutral” or “negative”. While these instruments have good intent, many companies are struggling to measure provable effects. Sebastian Stockzelius, Head of Operations at Plastiks, explains the situation.
Interest, expertise, and the will to create a better future
Before working at Plastiks, Sebastian held a variety of management roles in both Nordic and international companies. While traveling and working abroad for many years, Sebastian has witnessed first-hand how plastic pollution has affected the environment in third-world countries over the years.
In his current role at Plastiks, he gets to use his previous experience as an entrepreneur, business manager, marketer, consultant, business leader and salesman to tackle the plastic problem.
“At Plastiks, we help companies tackle the plastic pollution problem in an easy, accessible, transparent and measurable way. And we don’t just mean measurable by numbers, we also mean measurable by impact. A sponsor will be able to see what sponsoring a recovery project will lead to in terms of local benefits, such as new schools, new equipment or a new drinking well, for example.”
“It’s not about ending plastic waste – it’s about ending the waste of plastic”
For many companies, there is no perfect substitute for virgin plastics. While there are certain products that can be replaced with partly recycled plastics, or other materials, completely cutting out plastics is not realistic. At least not for many years ahead.
“Instead, to reduce the harm on the planet caused by continuously producing and discarding plastics, we should focus on using plastic as a resource.”
Many seem to think that a lot of plastic simply cannot be recycled, Sebastian says. While some types of plastics are easier to recycle than others, there are many ways to utilize plastic in new ways. Even the types of plastic that are extremely hard to recycle can be turned into bricks and road materials, for example.
Plastiks is working with several different recovery projects, specializing in turning even hard-to-recycle plastic into useful objects. One such example is Second Life, where they are transforming low-value and complex multi-layer plastic into pavement blocks.
Read more: Where does the recovered plastic end up?
Why companies struggle with the concept of credits
There are many different ways that a company can take sustainable actions, such as donating money to a charity organization or purchasing carbon credits. Carbon credits, and plastic credits, are something that a company buys in order to offset their production. Plastic credits are a fairly new concept, and not as well-known as carbon credits. However, the concept of credits is still viewed upon with skepticism from many due to its lack of tangibility.
“The concept of carbon credits and plastic credits aren’t tangible enough for companies to spend money on. There are no guarantees regarding what good the money contributes to, except the fact that a specific amount of plastic or carbon was compensated for. Companies want concrete proof of action when they spend money on sustainable actions.”
Plastiks is offering a way to provide concrete proof of action, as well as complete transparency of every transaction along the way. Plastiks does this by measuring the social impact generated by the money from sponsoring the recovery projects.
“You can measure the amount of money coming into the project, and then you can see what local actions the money has generated”
Let’s say a company decides to recover plastic by sponsoring a recovery project. This recovery project wants to build a new drinking well in the local village. The money generated by the sponsoring company is paying the workers a fair wage, while also contributing to the well. Once the well has been built, it will serve as proof of the positive effects of sponsoring plastic recovery. As a company, you are paying for the projects to remove plastic from the environment (and re-enter the value chain of plastic), as well as having a direct impact on improving the living conditions for the recovery projects, Sebastian explains.
“If you produce 100 tons of plastic every year, and you decide to compensate for it by sponsoring a recovery project that is removing plastic from the environment, you are at the same time contributing to the building of drinking wells, new schools, more jobs and better equipment, for example.“
Thanks to blockchain technology, Plastiks can guarantee that the money spent on Plastic Recovery Guarantees is ending up in the right place, where it’s generating impact, while also removing plastic from the environment.
The fear of greenwashing
Another hinder in approaching new sustainable actions is the fear of it backfiring. That is why many companies choose solutions that are already known, such as donating to a known charitable organization. The solutions usually offer an easy way of taking action, and since the solutions are known to the public, it’s received in a positive way by their customers.
“The key to prevent falling into the greenwashing trap of having your sustainable claims backfire is to set realistic goals with what you wish to achieve.”
Making unrealistic and public claims will not look good in the eyes of the consumers when they are not fulfilled. To avoid accidentally making false claims and misleading your customers, make sure you are working with a partner that is able to provide transparency. This makes it easier for you to communicate your actual efforts and impact, in a clear and honest way.
Sustainable quick wins
There is no way to go sustainable or save the world overnight. But you have to start somewhere, and you have to start on the right foot. Sebastian’s best tips for doing that is:
- It’s okay to do just a little. You don’t have to go big or go home, a little is still more than nothing.
- Being clear and honest in the way you communicate regarding your sustainable actions.
- Don’t be afraid to try new innovative technologies. You don’t have to make a global transition right away. Try it out in one section of your business and see how it works.
Keep up with the trends
Make sure your business is up to date with current sustainability trends! Attend our free webinar and learn more about why it’s essential for you as a retailer or organization to keep your business up to date with current trends. And we’ll also give you examples of HOW you can do it!