As a child, I was enamored with the TV show Captain Planet and the Planeteers. An animated television series, the show followed the title superhero and his five planeteers in their quest to fight pollution, deforestation, and other environmental threats.
The planeteers each represented elements; earth, wind, fire, water, and heart and, when combined, they could summon the titular hero, Captain Planet, to fight the eco-villain of the day (often voiced by some famous voices like Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Jeff Goldblum, and even Sting). Perhaps this is a subconscious source of my drive to further sustainability and our sustainable packaging-enabling solutions in my professional life, all these years later. Do you remember the show? It made its way all the way down to Australia so I'm assuming it had some impressive global reach.
I recently read that there are six main resources we extract from the planet to support our everyday lives: water, oil, natural gas, phosphorus, coal, and rare earth. Captain Planet came to mind immediately, the combination of these resources that make our lives possible just as those core elements summoned him.
Recycled content has value and is much more raw material than waste stream.
Head of Global Marketing, Resins for Paper
As I was learning more about Global Recycling Day, which was observed on March 18th, I stumbled across the term 'seventh resource' used to describe recyclables, an important addition to the six resources I just mentioned. Recycled content has value and is much more raw material than waste stream. In fact, according to the Global Recycling Day website, the seventh resource is responsible for saving 700 million tons of CO2 emissions, a figure that is expected to grow to 1 billion tons by 2030.
The BASF Printing & Packaging team was recently a sponsor of the US Sustainability in Packaging Conference where we had the chance to meet with many different industry stakeholders and learn from knowledgeable experts from up and down the packaging value chain. Some of the presentations that I found interesting were from those working right at the end of that chain in waste collection or material recovery facilities.
While you may think that the cereal box or beverage can you recycle at home just 'goes away', they are in fact collected, sorted, and then sold anew as raw materials for another use; packaging or otherwise. According to Global Recycling Day, these recycling activities generate 40% of our overall global raw material needs and employ approximately 1.6 million people worldwide.
As we move forward, the packaging industry will feel increasing pressure as their 2025 sustainability commitments come more sharply into focus. The increasing demand for recycled content and more circularity in packaging will itself also drive up the value of more recyclable substrates, unlocking further investment in society's ability to collect, sort, and utilize the seventh resource to its fullest.
Leveraging JONCRYL® HPB products, we are partnering with customers to enable the development of effective paper-based packaging that can pass global industry recyclability requirements. Take a look at our portfolio and reach out to see how we can work together to enable a more sustainable future of packaging.
The power is yours!