As a consumer, how do you value plastic?
Plastic is not made to end up in the environment. Yet, plastic waste is leaking into our natural environment, harming both humans and the wildlife. It is known that the issue with plastic pollution does not stem from the consumption of plastic, it is the mindset and our behavioural patterns. To tackle this issue, it requires us to rethink our relationship with the material.
To begin re-thinking the ways we deal with our plastic waste, and to ensure a healthier and sustainable nation, we should start with the products we use in our daily lives; it can be as simple as a toothbrush!
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush ever created still exists on this Earth in one form or another today?
On Tuesday, the 16th of April, Jordan Asia Pacific, a Norwegian dental care brand, launched their first ever Green Clean Toothbrush in Malaysia, at our Me.reka Makerspace. What’s special about this toothbrush is the fact that it is designed with sustainable materials. 90% of the total product and packaging is made out of recycled materials, and the remaining 10% (the toothbrush bristles) are 100% bio-based. True to Scandinavian design principles, Jordan Green Clean has a modern and minimalistic appearance to ensure a comfortable brushing experience. Read more about the Jordan Green Clean Toothbrush here.
The Green Clean campaign kickstarts by raising awareness on the 3R: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. These 3 components are seen as a useful guide for us to live more sustainably and waste-free.
It is clear that reduce is the best way to limit the issues of plastic waste. This is especially true in the use of convenience items like plastic bottles, cups and straws. However, it is not practical for some plastic items like, disposable medical syringes, to be reduced as they cannot be reused due to the risks of cross-contamination. They could be recycled but, some types of plastic cannot be recycled and the costs of recycling are high.
The 3Rs can help us make a significant contribution to stop waste production but, there are limitations of the 3Rs and more often than not, the plastic waste still goes directly to a landfill or pollute the environment.
So, what should be the alternative? What about plastics in a circular economy?
During the Green Clean launch, Professor Dr. Agumutu Pariatamby, from University of Malaya, introduced the 4th R: Repurpose. Which is simply taking something you are no longer using, and altering it for another more practical use. This 4th component was introduced to further enhance the 3Rs as well as to demonstrate the possibilities of transitioning into a circular economy. This was further explained by Biji-biji Initiative CEO, William Koong.
Circular economy is a closed-loop, regenerative approach of ‘make, use and dispose’. Source: CarpetCycle
The traditional linear model follows the path of make, use and then, dispose. In contrast, a circular economy is an alternative, more sustainable model to the traditional linear economy. It is restorative and regenerative by design, which means that materials constantly flow around a ‘closed loop’ system, rather than being used once and then discarded. Regarding plastics in a circular economy, we would simultaneously keep the value of plastics, without any leakage into the natural environment.
Our Biji-biji Initiative CEO, William Koong, giving a speech on plastics’ contribution to the circular economy.
This responsibility could be extended to the producer to support the transition to a more circular economy. Companies like, Jordan, have started that by designing and producing items (i.e., the Green Clean Toothbrush) that minimise their environmental impact and finding ways to reduce the costs associated with end-of-life products. Thus, to improve the circularity of plastics, it is essential to make sure that more and more plastic waste is recovered, refurbished, repaired and not end up in the landfill or the environment.
To conclude, there is no doubt that plastic waste is an enormous problem in today’s society, But, plastics are amongst the most valuable waste materials. Plastics have a ton of uses even after we consider them “useless”. We need to stop thinking of plastic as ‘waste’. In the end, it is our job as consumers, to be aware of our impact on the ecosystem. If possible, we should prevent all kinds of pollution, waste and unnecessary use of resources. By recognising the value of plastic waste, we can then educate and inspire those to change their mindsets and behaviours that can create a lasting impact on the nation.
We would like to thank the Director General of Department of Environment, Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Bin Che Ibrahim, the Ambassador of Norway to Malaysia, Gunn Jorid Roset, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, Professor Dr. Agumutu Pariatamby from University of Malaya and Jordan Pacific Asia for letting us be part of the Green Clean Toothbrush launch. We were incredibly honoured and excited as we believe that this is one of the ways to start dealing with our plastic waste, which is crucial for the health and the sustainability of the planet.
Jordan Green Clean Toothbrushes are available at selected pharmacies and supermarkets in major cities around Malaysia at an introductory price of RM7.90
If you have any further questions on this, please feel free to drop us a message at [email protected] or comment below your thoughts!