Five Questions & Answers. Plastic Change on Sustainability.
Environmental NGO Plastic Change is educating consumers, companies and politicians to improve and reduce our usage of plastic. We sat down with “Plastic Changer”, Hans Henrik Heming, to get his take on how companies can help lead the way towards a more sustainable future.
“How do you define sustainability?”
“In 1987, the former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland published the report called ‘The Brundtland Report’ (Brundtlandrapporten). In it, she describes sustainability as an ‘evolving where the needs of current generations aren’t met at the expense of the opportunities of future generations to meet their needs’.”
“What role do companies play in creating a sustainable future?”
“I believe that companies have an overarching responsibility in creating a sustainable future. Consumers can’t fathom the vast choices of materials and possibilities in regards to waste management, but companies can! However, only a few companies take on this responsibility – many yet don’t understand how to tie sustainability together with better financial growth. Fortunately, more and more companies are finding their way, and they will be the winners in the future.
Both companies and consumers need to think more sustainable if we are to have continued faith in our ability to stop the growing amount of plastics flowing out into our oceans. It is about putting out products of better quality that ensures better recycling. Also, we need to consume less, and when we do consume, make sure that we reuse and recycle products.”
“Many of the companies, we speak to, are looking to turn good intentions into actions. What would you recommend them to focus on first?”
“The first step is the greatest. To see in which ways one’s business can do better and improve and expand on what is already being done. And then, it is about understanding that many small steps create movement in the right direction.
There will be many low-hanging fruits but some things may require more effort and time. Perhaps some things will require one to redefine one’s business model. The latter is not easy, but it is better to be proactive than wind up being ignored by consumers who demand action.”
“What makes you optimistic about the future?”
“Again and again, humans have found solutions to problems and we will continue to do so. However, increasing plastic emissions makes me less optimistic. Many interests are at stake here, especially financial, and they try to tip the scale in their favour. I fear consumers will be lulled into sleep by clever communication from different industries. However, there are cracks filled with light and hope. Consumers seek sustainable solutions, which push companies to meet their demands.”
“If you were to give one piece of advice, what would it be?”
“To companies, I would advise them to think more circular, thinks beyond just the economic bottom line. Hopefully, the public opinion will require the environmental externalities associated with the production and marketing of products to be reflected in pricing as well, so consumers have a more transparent and real choice.
To consumers, I would advise that they should increase their recycling – demand better quality – and insist on demanding more sustainable alternatives.”
Recently, we announced our partnership with environmental NGO Plastic Change. An exciting collaboration that will benefit both our and our clients’ understanding of the impact of plastics.