Due to growing concerns around environmental protection, businesses, individuals and governments have been looking for solutions that can be largely implemented to close the tap on plastic pollution.
In the last five years, businesses have strengthened their CSR approach to acknowledge the need to take responsibility for their plastic production and consumption.
If targets have been defined and strong policies followed them to ensure high recycling rates of plastic products, a problem remains. What is the solution for low-value non-recyclable plastics?
This is where plastic offsetting enters the scene. As a derivative of the Carbon Offsetting idea, where trees are planted or protected to capture CO2 emissions, Plastic offsetting also known as Plastic Neutralization, enables companies to take responsibility for their plastic footprint.
Put simply, neutralizing means funding the collection and treatment of plastic, equivalent to the plastic impact of the business. Therefore, allowing it to compensate for every ton of plastic it has produced by ensuring there is one ton less in the environment.
It is also a breakthrough in our traditional model of production, the linear economy. By extending the producer responsibility (EPR), this concept allows building the bridge that leads to the ideal model, the circular economy, where no waste remains.
This innovative solution brings with it a diverse positive impact. To the environment, by protecting ecosystems from plastic pollution, reducing landfilling and CO2 emissions. A strong social impact, by local communities by empowering local communities with work and better incomes. But also businesses, by becoming more sustainable with the reduction of the plastic footprint and a strong corporate social responsibility.
TONTOTON, a Vietnamese company, based in Ho Chi Minh City has succeeded to connect all stakeholders to create a new market for low-value non-recyclable post-consumer plastic, on the scheme of a circular economy.
The TONTOTON solution
Following the idea that the informal sector achieves to collect and recycle a large amount of plastic in poor waste management areas, Barak Ekshtein, director of TONTOTON decided to look closer to the problem.
A study shows that 97% of plastic bottles were collected by informal waste pickers. The problem, therefore, does not lie in the logistics but the price. By giving a market price to non-recyclable plastic, it allows waste collectors to collect and treat waste and thus avoid plastic pollution.
TONTOTON currently works in Southern Vietnamese Islands, Hon Son, and Phu Quoc, and has already rescued few tons of low-value plastic waste. To do so, it collaborates with local waste-pickers and thus provides them better incomes. The program focuses on preventing ocean plastic by following the Ocean Bound Plastic Certification. Their activities are audited by a 3rd party control body, the internationally recognized company, Control Union.
To treat the waste, TONTOTON partners with a certified cement plant, through co-processing, to valorize waste as alternative energy and raw material. “Our system can solve two issues. Plastic is made of fossil fuels and contains more energy than coal. Thus we can replace industrial coal consumption with non-recyclable plastic waste. The plastic will not end up in landfill or oceans, therefore reduce levels of coal consumption and thus also CO2 emissions.”, says Barak Ekshtein.
Businesses engaged in their program can claim plastic neutrality on the amount of plastic neutralized to share their sustainability efforts. Moreover, indicate it on their neutralized product by bearing the “Plastic Neutral Product” label.