Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
A bit over a year ago we blogged here about how the enviro-conscious cleaning products company Method (San Francisco, CA) was developing a package for its products that would use a combination of plastic recovered from the ocean and post-consumer recycled plastic. Method got it done.
The package for the company’s new two-in-one hand and dish soap, which will be found exclusively on the shelves at Whole Foods Markets, is the result of a team effort by Method and its partners. The ocean plastic comes from beaches on the northern side of the Hawaiian islands
that receive marine litter from the Pacific gyre.
Over the past year and a half, Method employees have worked with volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i and the Kōkua Hawai’i Foundation to hand-collect several tons of plastic from the beaches of Hawai’i, where the kinds of rigid, opaque plastic needed to make this packaging are most abundant. A portion of the proceeds from Method’s product will go to those two Hawaiian organizations to create an ongoing business model and supply chain for collecting and sorting plastic marine debris.
To develop a recycling process for its ocean plastic bottles, Method partnered with polyolefin recycling specialist Envision Plastics (Reidsville, NC), which had previously developed and patented proprietary technologies to produce FDA-approved, food-grade high density polyethylene (HDPE). The process Envision developed with Method allows rigid, opaque plastics recovered from the ocean beaches to be cleaned, blended and then
remanufactured into high quality plastic that has the same quality as virgin HDPE.
The gray color of the bottle is very different from Method’s usual bright colored packages, but the company chose to stay with the gray color that results from the recycling process.
In a video on Method’s website, company co-founder Adam Lowry, whose job title is chief greenskeeper, gives a positive and realistic take on the ocean plastic bottle: “We know that only a small amount of plastic will be taken out of the ocean for the bottles we make. We know that’s not the solution. But we know we can have a much bigger impact if we start to change people’s minds about their role in protecting our oceans.”
Before closing, let’s address some comments I’ve seen made in online stories about what Method is doing. First, to those who think this is some kind of trick because the bottle is not 100% ocean plastic, recycling post-consumer material also is a great way to protect our environment and Method clearly states what the content is. Second, to those who say plastic found on a remote beach is not really ocean plastic, where do you think it really comes from?