Everything You Need to Know about Plastic Offsetting—How to Be Plastic Neutral
Oct 07 2021
Unless you’re new here, you’ve probably heard (read) about carbon offsetting and becoming carbon neutral, but you most likely haven’t heard about plastic offsetting and what it means to be plastic neutral. If that’s the case, keep on reading as we will cover all you need to know about plastic offsetting and how we can leverage it in the fight against climate change.
EcoCart is proud to be leading the charge in offering plastic offsetting as a way of mitigating waste and pollution and decreasing environmental impacts. Plastic offsetting is increasingly important. As we’ve all experienced, e-commerce can produce a lot of waste, especially plastic waste. This is often not recyclable or if it is the end-consumer can still toss it in the trash. This excess waste is something that most don’t like and even feel guilty about, but with plastic offsetting, we now have a practical solution to an all-too-common problem.
What on Earth is plastic offsetting?
EcoCart is proud to be leading the charge in offering plastic offsetting as a way of mitigating waste and pollution and decreasing environmental impacts. Plastic offsetting is increasingly important. As we’ve all experienced, e-commerce can produce a lot of waste, especially plastic waste. This is often not recyclable or if it is the end-consumer can still toss it in the trash, because a lot of the time how to dispose of plastic correctly isn’t clear. This excess waste is something that most don’t like and even feel guilty about, but with plastic offsetting, we now have a practical solution to an all-too-common problem.
Plastic offsetting isn’t too different from carbon offsetting. The same idea of measuring your footprint (in this case, how much plastic waste you create) and figuring out ways to reduce or offset that footprint still applies. Your plastic footprint is just as important as your carbon footprint because plastics are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, landfill waste, and ocean plastic pollution.
Your plastic footprint is the total amount of plastic your lifestyle contributes (and will contribute over your lifetime) to the world’s waste. These days, most of our food, household goods, and everyday products come to us with some sort of plastic. All of that plastic waste adds up to your personal plastic footprint. A lot of this plastic waste can’t be avoided.
Fortunately, you can offset your plastic waste. For every ton of plastic waste you create, you can save that amount of plastic from going into a vulnerable ecosystem, like the ocean or into communities around the world.
For example, the TONTOTON project that EcoCart supports helps measure the amount of plastic waste a company produces, then rescues an equal amount of ocean-bound plastic on their behalf. Once rescued, plastics are sent to a co-processing facility to generate Alternative Fuels and Raw Materials (AFRM), turning the plastic from waste to useful materials.
By targeting ocean plastic pollution, TONTOTON is helping one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on our planet and ensuring the safety of other ones in the process. The ocean is home to lots of sea life, captures a lot of carbon emissions, and is one of the best parts of our planet—and we’re destroying it. If we can’t recycle the plastic waste, there’s a high chance it ends up in the ocean, which is why TONTOTON is working to capture and reuse the plastic in other innovative ways.
TONTOTON is the world’s first plastic credit. A plastic credit is an environmental commodity that represents the collection or recycling of one ton of plastic material, which can be transferred between organizations. Utilizing systems like these are one way we can ensure that we protect vulnerable parts of our ecosystem from plastic pollution. TONTOTON has Ocean Bound Plastic Certification, an independent standard of Zero Plastic Oceans, and third-party verification and auditing from Control Union.
What it means to be plastic neutral
Similar to being carbon neutral, being plastic neutral means that you remove a specific amount of plastic pollution that is tantamount to the amount you produce. By being plastic neutral, you can remove harmful plastic pollution and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions!
The alternative fuels and raw materials that the TONTOTON project creates through recovered plastic waste help replace coal at a local manufacturing plant to reduce the site’s greenhouse gas emissions. By helping manufacturing plants use less coal, TONTOTON projects help reduce the usage of fossil fuels and subsequently the number of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
All the program’s rescued plastics are transferred to the co-processing treatment facility to be used as energy for cement kilns. This creates a new market for low-value plastics and provides support for waste-picking communities. Because of the nature of the materials, they’re working with, the facilities are monitored 24/7 for their carbon emissions to ensure the facilities are safe and are having a minimal environmental impact of their own.
TONTOTON has partnered with several environmental groups, including ClimeCo and Zero Plastic Oceans, all of which help support and verify projects like TONTOTON and maximize their impact on our planet.
Plastic and climate change: why being plastic neutral matters
Being plastic neutral matters. Especially in our oceans, plastic waste has been (and still is) a consistently growing problem. Each piece of plastic ever made still exists, so there’s bound to be a lot of waste lying around and polluting our land and waters.
Creating new plastic, while it can be cheaper than using other materials, is only going to continue straining the environment. Cases like the pacific garbage patch, overflowing landfills, and entire communities swarmed in plastic waste from other countries are clear examples of the cost of creating more plastic and incorrectly disposing of it.
At this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. And that’s just the ocean alone—consider the plastic waste polluting our land in giant heaps of garbage all over the world, being put to waste. Both the creation and disintegrating of plastic contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and without even attempting to be plastic neutral, we’ll create our own downfall.
Over the years, there’s been a huge rise in single-use plastic, and in general, using plastic for most of the packaging and products we use and purchase. If you can’t avoid the plastic, it’s time to start looking for ways to offset it.
More than reducing ocean plastic pollution
Besides reducing the ocean’s plastic pollution, the TONTOTON project helps support vulnerable communities that depend on the ocean and its components as part of daily life. With their projects stationed throughout Vietnam, a country that creates a lot of plastic waste pollution, they’ve been able to target and assist thousands of people living in these vulnerable seaside communities.
TONTOTON’s program is built on economic benefits for all parties, from the informal waste pickers to the funding companies. Through support for TONTOTON, they have been able to hire workers, expand capacity, and start working in new areas in Vietnam to scale up the volume of plastic waste recovery, ensuring a safe community and ecosystem for the region.
Plastic offsetting is an effective tool to combat pollution and climate change. Because most businesses require the use of some plastic, looking for ways to mitigate your environmental impact should be a normal part of your business, and your life in general. Here at EcoCart, we’re always looking for innovative and unique ways to help make processes eco-friendly, both for consumers and businesses. We are proud to partner with TONTOTON to help brands become plastic neutral!