By encouraging citizens to replace household cleaning products traditionally sold in disposable plastic bottles with reusable ones, we can eliminate billions of plastic bottles and sprayers from entering the waste stream.
TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government
KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Research shows that citizens are concerned about plastic, especially on the impact it has on marine life, and feel there is something they can personally do about it, but need encouragement to do the right thing. City-lead public education and community engagement initiatives that promote alternatives to plastic are effective mechanisms to help change consumer behavior.
Household cleaning liquids are placed in bottles made of tough plastic, designed to last for more than a few uses, but are typically used only until their content is finished and then thrown out, or intended to be recycled and then not. Only a small fraction of these plastic bottles and sprayers are ever recycled, most end up in our waste stream, posing a serious threat to the environment and especially to marine wildlife.
90 % of a typical cleaning product is water. Innovative companies like Blueland are now creating household cleaners that are sold in concentrated tablet form, which customers activate by simply adding water in a reusable spray and pump bottle. Here’s how it works: 1) Fill your reusable bottle with warm water, 2) Drop in the tablet, 3) Wait a few minutes (no need to shake or stir the bottle), and 4) Start using the product. Similar household cleaner concentrate solutions include: Amazon’s Clean Revolution, Replenish’s CleanPath and Unilever’s CIF EcoRefill.
When cities inform citizens of the damage the disposal of traditional household cleaning bottles and sprayers have on our planet and offer smart alternatives like Blueland products, people will make better choices and waste will be reduced.
The City of Seattle, Washington, in its continued effort to conserve water, gives away free low-consumption toilets to qualified homeowners. This same approach can be used to reduce plastic: inform, engage and empower people to make better, plastic-free choices for our shared environment.
For more information on the City of Seattle's water conservation and waste prevention initiatives, see: https://www.seattle.gov/utilities/protecting-our-environment/sustainability-tips/conserve-water/free-toilets-for-homeowners.
Government can go further in their aim to reduce the use of plastic products like household cleaning supplies by charging fees for their purchase or simply implementing bans on them altogether. Germany, for example, has agreed earlier this year to end the sale of single-use plastics including cutlery, plates, stirring sticks and balloon holders, as well as polystyrene cups and boxes by July 3, 2021 (see https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/07/31/germany-bans-plastic-straws-food-containers-cotton-buds/5556621002/).
The City of Seattle, Washington transitioned from plastic bags to reusable bags by banning plastic and charging customers for paper, starting in 2012. For more information, see https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council/mike-obrien/plastic-bag-ban
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