To date, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide; about 9% of that has been recycled, and about 12% has been burnt. The remaining 79% is in the environment, polluting our seas and contributing to a seemingly unstoppable climate catastrophe (source). Plastic is one of the biggest problems for our ecosystems, especially with greenhouse gas emissions: In 2015 alone, plastic production caused approximately 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), which is approximately 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (source). Current estimates assume that the production of plastic will double in the next 20 years and quadruple by 2050 (source). The plastics industry could soon be one of the largest CO2 emitters in the world.
With WILDPLASTIC, the Hamburg-based company joins the effort for a cleaner planet: the WILDBAG is the first garbage bag that cleans up the world instead of polluting it. It is made from plastic sourced from beaches, landfills and illegal dumpsites, collected by people in countries with no functioning waste disposal systems. The collected plastic is then either shipped to Europe or, if possible, sorted, cleaned and processed into granulate by recycling partners on site. This granulate can be used as an alternative to new plastic; it is transported to the manufacturer in Germany, processed there as the WILDBAG, and finally distributed to stores and consumers. The imprint that comes in lettering, palm leaves made of straws, leopards made of beach trash or eyes made of to-go cup lids and straws, is easy to wash off and does not impair the quality of the recyclate (the plastic that comes out again after the recycling process). Every WILDPLASTIC product consists of plastics that originate from the environment; it helps to make the planet a little cleaner, replaces the production of new plastic and saves energy and the use of CO2. Indeed, the production of a WILDBAG saves up to 60% CO2e compared to a garbage bag with a high proportion of new plastic. With the purchase of every WILDBAG, the consumer saves an average of 20 grams CO2e. By 2023, around 13 tons of CO2e could be saved in this way.
At WILDPLASTIC, cleaning the environment of plastics is not only a collective responsibility, but also a huge potential: If recyclable materials are brought back into the production cycle, the manufacture of new plastic can be replaced and the dependency on a CO2 intensive fossil production can be reduced. Although there is so much plastic “available” in the environment, almost all products are still made from new plastic. The company’s goal is to clean up the world together, manufacture sustainably recycled materials and products, and develop logistics and recycling cycles in cooperation with other sustainable brands. The future of plastic can be innovative and habit changing, if recycling cycles are rethought and consumer behavior is changed: to the collective behind WILDPLASTIC it is important to not only replace conventional plastic with its products, but to consider what can be done individually. Ideally, the use of plastic is reduced – whether it is recycled or conventional. But also correct waste separation is an important task: If not separated correctly, plastic is sorted out and incinerated instead of properly recycled. Plastic waste should be seen as a valuable material that inspires creative, smart, social and holistic solutions.
The WILDBAG that is available in 35 and 50 liter capacities is entirely recyclable and made from WILDPLASTIC. The collectors in regions without a functioning waste system try to stop the plastic from making its way into nature. Specifically, this means that they collect plastic waste directly from consumers and thus avoid these valuable materials ending up on the streets or in the ocean to ensure the environment from being polluted. Collectors are still among the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. Together with their partner organizations Plastic Bank, Plastics for Change and Empower, WILDPLASTIC helps to improve the living conditions of the collectors who collect an average of 55 kg of wild plastic a day. Besides paying the collectors a higher rate for their plastic and guaranteeing a more stable income, these organizations also ensure educational opportunities and better health and safety standards.
So far, WILDPLASTIC has cleaned up more than 17 thousand kilograms of wild plastic, enabled more than 260 working days with better conditions for collectors and saved more than 10 thousand kilograms of CO2e. With each WILDBAG, an average of 41g of WILDPLASTIC is being cleaned up from the environment. By 2023, around 5 million kilograms of garbage could be cleaned up in this way.
Nevertheless, the most environmentally friendly garbage bag is the one you do not use for garbage that you do not create. But if you do produce some, the WILDBAG is definitely a sustainable alternative.
by Marie Klimczak