Earth Day 2020: Taking care of the planet during a pandemic
Companies are encouraging more people to recycle as the world deals with a pandemic this Earth Day.
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Earth Day 2020: Taking care of the planet during a pandemic

Companies are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day while emphasizing the benefits of recycling.

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Earth day is celebrated each year on April 22, with this year marking the 50th anniversary. It all started back in 1970, when a young senator witnessed an oil spill in California and wanted to inspire change for the environment. Organizing teach-ins across U.S. college campuses, April 22 was chosen because it fell between spring break and finals, encouraging more participation.

Since then, Earth Day has expanded globally, reminding individuals and companies each year about the important impact their actions have on our climate. This year, with the anniversary and more people inside because of COVID-19, companies are reminding consumers about the impact their consumption has on the planet as well as ways to better contribute to cleaning up the environment.

Two Procter & Gamble brands to introduce plastic-free, paper deodorant packaging

Old Spice and Secret, both Procter & Gamble (P&G) brands, have announced that they plan to transition from their current packaging to all-paper packaging. Cincinnati-based P&G says it wants to focus on sustainability this Earth Day and help be a part of the solution when it comes to reducing plastic in oceans and landfills.

The plastic-free, recyclable packaging will be available in 500 Walmart stores this May. Not only is the packaging entirely made from paper, but 90 percent of it's already been recycled.  

“This is just one example of how we are trying to make a difference and build a more sustainable future,” says Anitra Marsh, associate director of P&G’s Global Sustainability and Brand Communications.

After seeing how customers respond to the new packaging, P&G says it may expand it to other lines. This is just one new concept created to help P&G’s efforts toward sustainability, as some Olay lotions and spray Secret deodorants already have been repackaged. Ultimately, P&G says it aims to use 100 percent recyclable and reusable packaging by 2030.

The importance of recycling during COVID-19 to keep supply chains moving

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, paper suppliers are emphasizing the importance of recycling as the demand for paper products increases. Millions of people around the country are staying home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, driving the need for paper towels, toilet paper and other paper products.

Some suppliers are cutting back or stopping collections entirely, leaving paper mills struggling to find the product they need for specific items. In addition to traditional recyclables from consumers, paper mills are asking people to recycle food and drink cartons as they are made of high-quality fibers that can be used to produce other paper products.  

Some companies, like Great Lakes Tissue, say times like these are challenging because of the need for 100 percent recycled raw material. That immense need re-emphasizes how essential consumer recycling is to keep many companies going, especially with the increase in demand while people stay home.

“We hope that everyone continues to see that recycling helps ensure the recycling supply chain keeps functioning, benefiting the environment and the economy all at once,” says Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America, Denton, Texas.

IBWA encourages public to reduce waste, recycle more bottles

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Alexandria, Virginia, is pushing more people to recycle, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a "climate action" theme. As more companies are moving toward using entirely recyclable materials to make their water bottles, consumer recycling is becoming more important.

“Recycled plastic is in high demand as the bottled water industry continues to reduce its environmental footprint by using more recycled PET (rPET) in product packaging,” says Jill Culora, IBWA vice president of communications.

Since the entire bottle, including the cap is recyclable, they are one of the most recognizable items for consumers to toss into curbside blue bins. Experts say with more people staying home due to COVID-19, it’s a great time to pick up a recycling habit, even if it’s small. Since everyone drinks water, the IBWA says recycling those empty bottles is an easy place to start that still has a big impact.

Responsible Battery Coalition announces new members to celebrate Earth Day

As Earth Day is celebrated, the Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC), Atlanta, has announced an expansion to increase membership, hoping to add momentum to the recycling of batteries. The Milwaukee-based coalition focuses on the sale, reuse and recycling of batteries and other devices to have a positive impact on the planet.

Those joining the RBC include Environmental Restoration, which will serve as a board member, and Li-Cycle. With 24 locations, Environmental Restoration focuses on the removal of hazardous waste, and Li-Cycle provides recycling services for lithium-ion batteries.

“The responsible management and recycling of batteries continues to be a focus of many major organizations and companies, and is the passion of RBC members,” says Steve Christensen, executive director of the RBC.

RBC, in its third year, says expansion helps the coalition meet its goals and move toward promoting the importance of battery recycling, no matter the technology.

New study reveals first recyclable coffee cup has a 60 percent lower carbon footprint

The Frugal Cup, made in Great Britain, is so sustainable, the Ipswich-based company says it could save 215 liters (or about 57 gallons) of water each year and 200 million trees. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Frugalpac made the announcement, also sharing that a regular coffee cup makes a much larger carbon footprint than Frugal Cups, which are made from 96 percent recycled paper.

How much of an impact is 200 million trees? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), enough to provide electricity to more than 15 thousand homes or charge more than 11 billion smartphones. Coffee cups stand apart because most of them are sent to landfills and normal cups have a high carbon footprint. In the U.K., only one recycling plant and about 50 industrial composting plants can process coffee cups. With that limit, the Environmental Audit Committee has recommended all single-use coffee cups should be recycled by 2023.

Now, Frugalpac is hopeful the cups can soon be used in major coffee chains, to replace less sustainable cups. “The Frugal Cup has been specifically designed to go through conventional recycling facilities. Moving over to our cup will protect the environment, reduce carbon emissions, save billions of litres of water and stop millions of trees needlessly being cut down to produce single use cups made of virgin paper,” says Frugalpac Chief Executive Malcom Waugh.