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5 big brands with plans to tackle the plastic problem

Plastic waste
Image by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Here at the Beagle Button, we are always keeping an eye out for new and exciting sustainable brands entering the market; and we love to see their innovative ideas and the strength of their commitment to sustainability. However we also know that truly altering the path that we are on relies on changes to the system itself, and that big brands have the power and influence to make this change happen.

This Plastic-Free July, we’ve sniffed out some of the brands that have set themselves ambitious targets for the next few years in reducing their use of virgin plastic and moving towards a circular business model.

Patagonia

It is hard to talk about sustainable brands without talking about Patagonia. Sustainability and environmental values have been at its core since inception, reinforced by its mission statement: "Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

However, Patagonia is honest about the benefits to both the brand and consumer of using polyester in its designs. In contrast to wool, polyester can protect from all weathers, is machine washable and extremely durable. Therefore the focus for Patagonia is to explore how this polyester can be recycled and kept in use for as long as possible. Patagonia have been using recycled materials since 1993 and have now set a goal to use only renewable or recyclable materials in their products by 2025. Alongside this, the brand has funded projects with third parties to explore solutions to microfibre shedding, and the capabilities of biodegradable materials.

We highly recommend reading Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s book ‘Let my people go surfing’, about the reluctant businessman’s journey from climber to climate activist, it’s a great read!

Lush

Once known almost solely for its pick-and-mix bath bombs, and sweet shop-style soap bars, LUSH has come a long way from where it started. The brand has always been aware of its impact on the environment but is now a pioneer in how self-care and beauty can be done better.

In 2018 the brand opened its first ‘Naked’ shop in Milan, followed by shops in Berlin, Hong Kong and Manchester. The shops are not just plastic free, but completely packaging free! The wider LUSH range follows suit, with over 50% of the products being packaging-free, and where this isn’t possible, their packaging is almost entirely made from recycled materials. LUSH is also aiming for 100% of this packaging to be recyclable or compostable. All of their pots and bottles are made from entirely post-consumer recycled plastic, saving 65 tonnes of CO2 and 90 tonnes of virgin plastic every year.

The LUSH range is extensive, and now includes make-up, hair products and fragrances alongside its veteran bath and shower range.

Plastic-free soap

IKEA

Furniture giant IKEA has long used its influence to drive positive change through its policies and partnerships. Through the IKEA Foundation, the brand works with global partners to fund programmes that improve access to renewable energy, support refugees and build robust local supply chains, to name just a few!

These values are reflected in store and IKEA is setting many targets for itself to reduce its environmental impact. By 2030, the aim is that all items in its home furnishing range will be made from renewable or recycled materials. All rugs will be made from sustainable wool; the material is naturally pretty sustainable, being durable and strong as well as biodegradable, but IKEA also wants to make sure that it is from farms where animal welfare is prioritised, protecting those wonderful sheep! Packaging is also high on the agenda, with IKEA making the switch to a mushroom-based packaging that can biodegrade in the garden within weeks, who knew!

Unilever

Every day, 2.5 billion people use products produced by Unilever, and so to say that they have power and influence is undoubtedly an understatement! Many of the brands that we see on our weekly shops are produced by Unilever, even some that you might not expect; Love Beauty and Planet, for example, is a Unilever brand.

Thankfully, Unilever is using its influence to drive the sustainability agenda, including signing the European Plastics Pact in coalition with 15 governments and 70 companies and organisations pledging to avoid plastic waste across their supply chains. This is just one of many programmes and initiatives that they are involved in. Unilever have set their own individual target to ensure that 100% of their plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025. They are also piloting refill schemes globally, particularly in South East Asia.

Refillable plastic-free coffee

Method

Perhaps not as big a brand as some of the others that we’ve mentioned, but now a mainstay in UK supermarkets, Method creates sustainable alternatives to your usual cleaning products.

A certified BCorp, the brand was founded to fill the gap in the market for effective cleaning products that champion positive social and environmental impact! They also contain no ingredients that are harmful to the environment or to animals and so they are completely pet-friendly, something that is of course very important to us here at the Beagle button!

The ultimate goal of the brand is closed-loop packaging, where all of their bottles are reused. This goal drives the design of their bottles, undertaking research into nationwide recycling processes to ensure that their bottles can be recycled wherever possible. On the manufacturing side, the majority of their products are made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials, resulting in a 70% lower carbon footprint than that of virgin plastic.

Who are we again?

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