Social Enterprise Must Read List

Although incredibly diverse, all successful social enterprises owe their success to a driven and informed social entrepreneur. Thankfully, some of those individuals have written incredibly informative books on their social enterprising experiences. If you’re considering social enterprise, these 6 books are all must-reads.

One of the great things about social enterprises is how seemingly limitless their scope is. There’s an opportunity for positive change in every sector of our society, whether it be promoting environmentally friendly practices in the food industry or developing socially conscious electronic products. Although incredibly diverse, all successful social enterprises owe their success to a driven and informed social entrepreneur. Thankfully, some of those individuals have written incredibly informative books on their social enterprising experiences.

If you’re considering social enterprise, these 6 books are all must-reads:

Mission, Inc. by Kevin Lynch & Julius Walls, Jr.

An amazing read for understanding key concepts regarding social enterprise. The book focuses on the authors’ personal experiences with ten paradoxes that they came across when building their social enterprises.

Venture Forth! by Rolfe Larson

A valuable resource that goes through all the steps necessary to create and launch a successful nonprofit organization. Larson provides worksheets that identify your venture’s strengths and weaknesses, and helps you to make smart business decisions based on your own data analysis.

Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs By J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson & Peter Economy

Mainly focusing on the business practices used by modern nonprofits, this trio of highly qualified authors shows you how to complete the transition of becoming a social enterprise. It really is a toolkit – you’ll be using concepts learned in this book right away.

Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit by J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson & Peter Economy

A great continuation on their first book, former to this one on the list, Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs offers guidance on how to keep improving your social enterprise. It’s jammed back with hands-on exercises and tidbits of practical wisdom.

Social Entrepreneurship by Peter C. Brinckerhoff

Brinckerhoff’s book is one part personal skills development, and one part risk management. It teaches you how to think like a social entrepreneur and gives you tips and tricks to deal with all the risks associated with creating a social enterprise.

Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus

From Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Muhammad Yunus, Building Social Business is an engaging read and insight into why social enterprises are key to solving world issues. An inspirational book that serves as a reminder of the importance of social entrepreneurs.

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Ecopreneurship – Redefining Social Entrepreneurship for Restoration.

Waste Or Create’s Fireside in Celebration of World Environmental Day 2021.

Discussion Topic: Ecopreneurship – Redefining Social Entrepreneurship for Restoration. (Africa in Focus).

Background

World Environment Day celebrated annually on June 5th, is the United Nations flagship day for encouraging global awareness and action to protect our environment. Held annually since 1974, this event has grown to become the biggest, most celebrated day for positive environmental action. The theme for

World Environment Day 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration” and calls for urgent action to revive our damaged ecosystems.

Ecosystem Restoration; is a global undertaking at a massive scale. It means repairing billions of hectares of land – an area greater than China or the USA – so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs. It means bringing back plants and animals from the brink of extinction, from the peaks of mountains to the depths of the sea.

But it also includes the many small actions everyone can take, every day: growing trees, greening our cities, rewilding our gardens or cleaning up trash alongside rivers and coasts.

The Waste Or Create Fire Side Chat Objective.

The Month of June is always a special month for us at Waste or Create Hub. For years we have celebrated World Environment Day taking action differently. With more than 15 active partners Our World environmental day activities have seen a tremendous impact from our school awareness programs to planting more than 1000 trees. We #ecothemessage on the need to save our environment from various environmental challenges around the world whilst encouraging more people to take action.

At waste or Create Hub we prioritize the role of the young people to champion this change that we want to see and this is why we very excited about this year’s theme Ecosystem Restoration #generationsrestoration.

The African narrative is gradually shifting from aid-led solutions to enterprise-led solutions to developmental problems. The growing number of Social entrepreneurs, in particular, help to tackle social and environmental problems at the same time as providing goods and services for their communities. Their work brings together a different initiative that drives both economic and social change to build the resilience of their communities.

This is why we believe that the conversation on how we can Redefine Social Entrepreneurship For Restoration is important to share ideas, solutions, best practices and opportunities that will enable the environmental workforce for Africa to proffer many small to big actions everyone can take every day.

Date: World Environment Day, Saturday 5th June 2021

Time: 4pm GMT

Venue: @wasteorcreate Instagram Live

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5 opportunities of a circular economy

More than 100 billion tons of resources enter the economy every year — everything from metals, minerals and fossil fuels to organic materials from plants and animals. Just 8.6 percent gets recycled and used again. Use of resources has tripled (automatic PDF download) since 1970 and could double again by 2050 if business continues as usual. We would need 1.5 Earths to sustainably support our current resource use.

This rampant consumption has devastating effects for humans, wildlife and the planet. It is more urgent than ever to shift from linear, use-it-up-and-throw-it-away models to a circular economy: where waste and pollution are designed out, products and materials are kept in use for longer, and natural systems can regenerate.

A circular economy isn’t just about fixing environmental wrongs, though: Evidence shows it can bring big opportunities and positive impacts across industries, sectors and lives.

A growing number of businesses, governments and civil society organizations are coming together to drive the change through the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE). More than 200 experts from 100 organizations helped develop the Circular Economy Action Agenda, a set of publications that analyze the potential impact and call for action across five key sectors: plastics, textiles, electronics, food and capital equipment (machinery and large tools such as medical scanners, agricultural equipment and manufacturing infrastructure). The Action Agenda demonstrates five opportunities associated with the shift to a circular economy:

1. Make better use of finite resources

The circular economy concept is all about making better use of natural resources such as forests, soil, water, air, metals and minerals.

Take the textiles industry. Each year, huge quantities of fossil fuels are used to produce clothes from synthetic fibers each year. Textile production (including cotton farming) uses almost 100 billion cubic meters of water per year, about 4 percent of global freshwater withdrawal. At the same time, people throw away still-wearable clothes worth an estimated $460 billion each year.

Creating a circular economy for textiles means shifting to recycled and recyclable materials in order to reduce the amount of land, water and fossil fuels used to produce new clothes. It means changing consumption patterns to reduce new purchases and keep clothes in use for longer, for instance by developing the second-hand and rental markets as well as changing the culture of fast fashion. Research suggests that the purchase of 100 second-hand garments can displace the production of 85 new garments. And finally, it means ensuring that clothes at the end of their life are collected and recycled or repurposed into new clothes, further reducing resource use.

2. Reduce emissions

About 45 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from product use and manufacturing, as well as food production. Circular economy strategies that reduce our use of resources can cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent (22.8 billion tons) and play a crucial role in averting the dangerous impacts of climate change.

For example, shifting towards recycled materials would alleviate the need to produce virgin plastics and synthetic fibers, which would significantly reduce fossil fuel use and associated emissions. Changing consumption patterns is also crucial: For example, if the average number of times a garment is worn were doubled, greenhouse gas emissions from the textiles industry would be 44 percent lower.

The world produces around 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Creating a circular economy for food by reducing loss and waste is particularly crucial to lowering emissions: If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after the United States and China.

3. Protect human health and biodiversity

Every year, more than 9 million deaths occur due to air, water and soil pollution. This pollution also threatens biodiversity.

Working towards a circular economy helps protect human health and biodiversity in many ways, including by making better use of natural resources (protecting water and land), and by mitigating the climate crisis. One of the clearest and most direct impacts of the shift to a circular economy will come from how we deal with products at the end of their life.

The world produces around 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. This is on top of 54 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste), of which just 17.4 percent gets collected and recycled. This waste becomes hazardous for human health and for biodiversity when it is mismanaged, either leaking into the natural environment or disposed of through open burning, landfills or substandard recycling.

Designing products to be kept in use for longer reduces the amount of waste produced. Creating proper collection and processing systems protects workers and the environment from hazardous materials. For instance, using existing solutions such as replacing plastic other materials, designing plastics so that they can be more easily recycled and scaling up collection and recycling could reduce the flow of plastic waste into the ocean by 80 percent in 20 years — a shift that would be enormously beneficial for human health and biodiversity.

4. Boost economies

Research shows that the circular economy offers a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity by reducing waste, stimulating innovation and creating employment. New business models focused on reuse, repair, remanufacturing and sharing models offer significant innovation opportunities.

For example, a circular economy for plastics offers considerable economic benefits. Less plastic waste in the ocean would benefit industries such as fishing and tourism, as plastic pollution leads to $13 billion in costs and economic losses per year. Reducing the pollution and toxic emissions that come from the open burning of plastic waste would lower healthcare costs, while reducing fossil fuel use for plastic production would help mitigate climate change and its associated costs.

Many of these economic benefits and opportunities are long-term, indirect and require significant investment; a long-term view is key, as are short-term incentives to drive the change. This can include policies that create more immediate financial incentives for businesses to develop innovative new business models and enable the efficient flow of reused and recycled materials across global value chains.

5. Create more and better jobs

Transitioning to a circular economy could create a net increase of 6 million jobs by 2030. Making the most of this opportunity will require a clear focus on social and environmental justice.

Jobs may be lost in more linear businesses; however, new jobs will be created in fields such as recycling, services such as repair and rental, or in new enterprises that spring up to make innovative use of secondary materials. These new jobs cannot be considered direct replacements, as they may be in different locations and require different skills. For instance, we must consider the millions of garment workers — mostly women — whose employment depends on the continuation of the fast fashion industry. Investing in a just transition via social dialogue, social protection and reskilling programs is key.

While a net increase in jobs is important, another value-add of circularity is the opportunity to provide formal work and improved working conditions for informal laborers. Around 15 million people worldwide work as “waste pickers,” salvaging reusable or recyclable materials from garbage. Bringing these informal waste pickers into formal work in collection or recycling is a major opportunity to offer safer, more secure employment.

Maximizing the impact of the circular economy

Of course, there are always trade-offs to be considered and managed when working towards large-scale, systemic change. For example, shifting to bio-based plastics and natural, recyclable textiles such as cotton will use less fossil fuels than traditional plastics or synthetic fibers, but may increase demands for land and water to grow such materials. Shifting to natural materials is a crucial part of the solution, but only if those materials are produced in a sustainable way — and only if consumption habits change, too.

A long-term view is key, as are short-term incentives to drive the change.

It’s also important to recognize the interconnected nature of the global economy. Many minerals and metals used in electronics are byproducts from the mining of aluminum, copper, lead and zinc, which are used across industries. Going circular in the electronics industry alone would not do much to reduce dependence on these resources. Multiple industries must shift to create systemic change.

Finally, it will be crucial to keep social well-being and equity top-of-mind. For example, moving to a circular economy can shift investment and employment away from production and manufacturing (which tends to happen in lower-income countries) and towards later stages of the value chain, such as repair, resale, sorting and recycling (often concentrated in wealthier countries). We’ll need to ensure that economic benefits are equitably distributed to maximize the opportunity of a circular economy.

A role for everyone

The above five impact areas exhibit some of the social, environmental and economic benefits of a circular economy, but realizing these benefits will require ambitious action. Governments, businesses, civil society, finance institutions, research organizations — everyone has a role to play. The new Circular Economy Action Agenda is a good place to start.

This story first appeared on: WRI

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7 Everyday Items Where Plastics Hide

You could be eating it right now. Some items we see and use every day are unmistakably plastic. However, some are not as easy to spot. 

There are some places where plastics hide! To help with identifying several common items which actually may contain plastic, we’ve compiled this list. 

Sea Salt 

Yes, there is microplastic in your salt. Specifically, sea salt. 

Microplastics are plastic particles with less than 5mm in size. These small plastic particles are a result of the breakdown of larger plastic pieces or from various industries or consumer products.

In particular, one product has been found to contain microplastic – sea salt. 

A review of microplastic pollution in commercial salt for human consumption, published in 2019, revealed that microplastics were found in sea salts from 128 salt brands from 38 different regions, which spans over five continents.

This study also showed that relatively high microplastic content was found in sea salts produced in Asian countries – the highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia. 

Moreover, 90% of the commercial salt samples contained microplastics with concentrations up to 19,800 particles.kg−1, which means that a typical adult salt consumer can potentially ingest 36,135particles.kg−1. 

Salt is important to us in our daily food preparations and preservation. Continuous exposure to microplastics from salt may lead to negative health effects, but further studies need to be done to clarify this. 

Teabags 

When you steep a plastic tea bag at a brewing temperature of 95°C, chances are, you are releasing about 11.6 billion microplastics into the cup. 

The study, led by Candian researcher and published in 2019 aimed to investigate whether plastic tea bags could release microplastic during a typical steeping process.

Teabags contain polypropylene, a type of plastic used to seal them and hold their shape. 

Similar to salt, continuous and long-term ingestion of microplastic from teabags will potentially have negative impacts on human health. 

The best way, of course, for us to avoid this is to purchase tea in loose leaves or in paper tea bags.

Disposable Wipes 

Personal care products, such as wet wipes, are often a staple of our household cleaning products – for a good reason, too! They are easy to handle and use, and it can be conveniently be disposed of.

However, these products can be overlooked as a source of white microplastic fibres in our environment

This is because a majority of our wipes are made with plastic.

Non-flushable wipes are manufactured from either polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP) or a combination of PET and cellulose. The plastic incorporated in the wipes improves the durability of the wipes.

Thus, wipes with plastic incorporated are less susceptible to degradation but they are subject to fragmentation through sheer stress forces of mechanical mixing during a wastewater treatment process. 

Since they do not degrade, they can only break into smaller pieces, releasing hundreds and thousands of microplastics into the environment. 

Of course, this, in turn, affects marine life in the ocean. Eventually, as microplastic gets consumed by the aquatic organisms it travels up the food chain to reach us, as well. 

Clothes

It may be difficult to imagine that plastic also exists in our clothes, but the truth is, a major source of plastic pollution in our oceans comes from washing our clothes

Polyester, nylon, acrylic along with other synthetic fibres (different forms of plastic) now comprise about 60% of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide.

Synthetic fibres are favourable in making our clothes as they are more durable

However, when we wash our clothes, synthetic fibres get released as they fail to get filtered inside the washing machines. 

Thus, these fibres pass through our sewage treatment plants and enter other waterways, such as our rivers and the oceans. As per usual, this will affect aquatic life and systems, accumulating up in our food chain. 

Of the different forms of plastic used to create our clothes, acrylic fabrics shed the most fibres, followed by polyester and a polyester and cotton blend.

Check out an article here from Vox that goes more in-depth about the fibres released when we wash our clothes.

Chewing Gum 

Chewing gum has been around since ancient times – in the past, it was derived from tree saps. Nowadays, the base used for most gum products is a blend of synthetic materials, such as elastomers (for flexibility), resins (the main part being chewed), and waxes (which soften the gums). 

Chewing gum also contains flavours, colours and sweeteners.

What we should also note is the fact that the gum base often contains polyethylene. Polyethylene is also used to make plastic bottles and plastic bags.

For those of us who chew gum on a regular basis – yes, in a way, we have been chewing on plastic. 

A study commissioned by Iceland has revealed that 85% of Brits fail to realize that chewing gum actually contains plastic

In response to the study as well as issues such as chewing gum staining the streets, Iceland launched Simply Gum, a biodegradable chewing gum made from tree sap called chicle.

Disposable Coffee Cups 

One of the most confusing (the most confusing, ever) products to recycle is the disposable or takeaway coffee cups.

This is mainly attributed to the fact that it has a mixture of paper and plastic in their inner lining, which is designed to make them both heat and leakproof. 

The coffee cups are actually lined with polyethylene. To recycle it properly, it must be separated from the paper portion of the cup. 

The difficulty in recycling these coffee cups is reflected in the low recycling rates of the product. 

According to the Guardian, a 2017 report from the UK’s House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee found that only one in 400 cups end up being recycled, with the vast majority going straight to landfill. 

Toothpaste 

Oftentimes, primary sources of microplastic also originate from personal care and cosmetic products. 

Alot of study has shown how manufacturers  aim to explore emissions of microplastics from the top ten personal care and cosmetic products identified. an estimated total of 0.199 trillion microplastics are emitted into the environment annually, through face cleansers, face scrubs, and toothpaste products. 

So, in other words, yes – your toothpaste, along with face cleansers and scrubs, do contain plastic.

According to the study, plastic polymers (low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polypropylene) were found in all facial cleaner/scrub samples while only plastic polymers (LDPE) were present in toothpaste (specifically, the sample G investigated). 

The problem arises when these particles get washed off and enter our rivers, waterways, and oceans, eventually finding their way to us. 

Plastics are everywhere

It’s rather disappointing to know that escaping from plastics is not as easy as it looks – they exist in places we do not see.

The most straightforward way of avoiding these products is, of course, to switch to alternative products that take extra consideration in making sure that the products are naturally biodegradable.

Here, it is also important to recognize that not everybody has the choice to make the switch to alternatives, which may come at a higher cost.

Ultimately, it’s a lot about doing the best we can within our means to reduce our footprint and to take care of our planet’s health (and our own).

Until significant changes take place to ban or phase out plastics to truly remove it from our lives, every little step and effort will count.

Zhi Yee writes for Biji-biji Initiative an partner organization of Waste or Create hub  She is a biology/ecology graduate with experience in sustainability programming, research and educational programs.

ZHI YEE TEH
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How Well Do You Know The 7 Types of Plastic?

Plastic has been undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of our lives. Used in packaging across a wide range of industries, in the manufacture of our clothing, electronics, as well as our products, the significance of plastic cannot simply be overlooked. 

Over the several last decades, we have also been made aware of the dangers of plastics to our planet and our health as rampant waste and overconsumption ensues. 

Let’s now dive deeper into the world of plastics. Specifically, the seven different types of plastic we encounter almost every day, in terms of their properties, common uses, and dangers (beware!). 

Type 1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

Properties 

PET is a highly flexible, colorless, and semi-crystalline resin in its natural state, and it can be semi-rigid to rigid depending on the way it is processed. 

Overall, it is strong and lightweight (making it easy to transport) and has advantages such as being able to keep carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks from escaping. As it does not shatter, it is also a good replacement for glass. PET also has excellent electrical insulating properties and, most importantly, it is 100% recyclable – it is the most recycled plastic worldwide!

Common Uses

  • Plastic bottles to hold drinking water and carbonated beverages
  • Food packaging
  • Rigid cosmetic jars
  • Microwaveable containers 
  • In the textile industry as polyester fabrics

Disadvantages

Over the last decade, several studies have shown that antimony (Sb), a cumulative toxic element in the environment with unknown biological functions, is able to migrate from the PET plastic bottles inside drinking water. 

Through a study investigating PET safety in regards to the release of Sb in Mexican water PET bottles, Chapa-Martínez et al. (2016) found that antimony indeed leached from the PET bottles into the water.

Moreover, the release of Sb from PET significantly increased with the storage temperature (75 °C), indicating that temperature plays a part in determining the leaching of Sb into drinking water.

Essentially, this means that you could be drinking antimony from bottled water from a plastic bottle that has been exposed to higher temperatures for several days – and this may have long-term implications on your health! 

Type 2: High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Properties

Polyethylene itself is a lightweight, durable thermoplastic with different crystalline structures.

High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is manufactured at low temperatures and pressures and is derived from either modifying natural gas (i.e., methane, ethane, or propane mix), or the catalytic cracking of crude oil into gasoline.

HDPE has very good resistance to alcohols, dilute acids and alkalis but has poor resistance to hydrocarbons. It also has good electrical insulating properties and it is a low-cost polymer. Most importantly, it is recyclable!

Common Uses

  • Packaging applications, such as crates, trays, milk bottles, industrial bulk containers, laundry/shampoo containers, etc.
  • Garbage containers, ice boxes, toys, housewares, etc.
  • Fibres and textiles, such as ropes, fishing nets, agricultural nets
  • Pipes and fittings, such as cable protecting, steel pipe coating, wiring and cables

Disadvantages

Despite its durability, HDPE is susceptible to stress cracking, and it also has poor UV and low heat resistance.

Environmental stress cracking is a leading cause of embrittlement in plastics as polymers are affected by elements such as water, vapours or organic liquids.

Also, it most definitely does not biodegrade.

Type 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Properties

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is an economical and versatile thermoplastic polymer. It is a lightweight, white-coloured, brittle, solid material that comes at a low cost and easy processability.

PVC is resistant to all inorganic materials and is resistant to weathering, chemical rotting, corrosion, shock and abrasion, and so it can be stored for a long period of time.

In terms of electrical properties, PVC is also a good insulation material. It is resistant to all inorganic chemicals, and it has good resistance against diluted acids. 

Whether PVC is recyclable will have to depend on your local recycler and whether they accept PVCs. 

Common Uses

Widely used in the construction industry to produce door and window profiles, drinking and wastewater pipes, wire and cable insulation, medical devices, etc.

Disadvantages

PVC has been dubbed by some medical researchers and environmentalists as the “poison plastic” as it can contain as much as 57% of chlorine and carbon.

With its high chlorine content, PVC can create toxic pollution in the form of dioxins, and individuals may be exposed to phthalates as well, which may have serious health consequences.

Proper disposal of PVC will ensure that PVC is handled correctly at the end of its lifetime. However, according to EcoWatch, it becomes problematic when it ends up in landfills instead of recycling facilities, where PVC will leak harmful chemicals when burned or buried, contaminating the environment. 

Type 4: Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Properties

Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE, is a semi-rigid and translucent polymer. 

It has good resistance to alcohols, dilute alkalis and acids, and it is a low-cost polymer with excellent electrical insulating properties.

Common Uses

  • Used to make thin, flexible products such as plastic bags for dry-cleaning, bread, fresh produce and garbage.
  • Shrink-wrap, stretch film
  • Coatings on paper milk cartons and disposable beverage cups 
  • Pharmaceutical bottles, thin bottle caps 
  • Water pipes and hoses 

Disadvantages

Similar to HDPE, LDPE is also susceptible to stress cracking, and it has low strength and maximum service temperature. This reduces its range of applications that require extreme temperatures.

As with most types of plastic, LDPE can leach chemicals that may pose a long-term risk to our health. 

Similar to PVC, whether LDPE is recyclable or not will have to depend on your local recycler.

Type 5: Polypropylene (PP)

Properties

Polypropylene, or PP,  is a rigid thermoplastic derived from petroleum and is among the cheapest plastics available today. It is one of the lightest polymers among all commodity plastics, which makes it suitable for lightweight applications. 

Moreover, it has excellent resistance to diluted and concentrated acids, alcohols and bases, and can withstand environmental stress cracking, but it is a highly flammable material.

Despite this, it is not recyclable.

Common Uses

  • Packaging applications: flexible packaging and rigid packaging
  • Consumer goods, such as furniture, houseware, appliances, luggage, toys, etc.
  • Automotive applications, such as battery cases, door trims, bumpers, etc.
  • Fibres and fabrics, such as rope and twine
  • Medical applications (due to high bacterial resistance), such as disposable syringes, medical vials, Petri dishes, intravenous bottles, pill containers, specimen bottles, etc.

Disadvantages

Despite it being one of the cheapest plastics, it’s worthwhile to note its limitations. For one, it has poor resistance to UV, impact and scratches and its heat-ageing stability is affected when in contact with metals. 

However, despite its chemical limitations, it has not been considered as one of the toxic plastics in the category. 

Type 6: Polystyrene (PS)

Properties

Polystyrene is a hard thermoplastic available both in the typical plastic form as well as in the form of rigid foam, commonly referred to as “styrofoam”.

The material is somewhat controversial amongst environmental groups as it is one of the most obvious forms of plastic found as litter, either in waterways or the ocean. 

Polystyrene is not recyclable. 

Common Uses

  • The solid plastic form of polystyrene is used in items such as yoghurt tubs, plastic disposable cups, CD cases, as well as medical devices such as Petri dishes and test tubes 
  • Styrofoam is most commonly used as packing material (i.e., the foam-like material when you unbox a new television), packing peanuts, and as disposable to-go containers

Disadvantages

As polystyrene is inert (it does not react well with acidic or basic solutions) it will last a long time in the environment, which poses as a litter hazard as these items are usually disposed of after a short while. 

As with other types of plastic, it has the potential to leak chemicals under heat, which is a risk to human health if exposed. 

Type 7: Other 

Properties

Type 7 plastic includes miscellaneous plastic, such as polycarbonate, polyctide, acrylic, styrene, fibreglass and nylon.

Plastics in this category are also non-recyclable.

Many BPA products also fall into this category. Although the health effects of BPA remain unconcluded, it’s best to avoid using plastic from this category, especially for food products!

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical added to many commercial products such as food containers and hygiene products. 

According to Healthline, excessive exposure to BPA may cause infertility in men and women, it is linked to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, increases the risk of obesity and may cause other health problems such as asthma, worse immune function, and impaired thyroid function.

Common Uses

  • Baby bottles
  • Sports equipment
  • Medical and dental devices
  • CDs and DVDs

Plastic Toxicity

We have managed to surround ourselves with plastic for the past 40 years, yet it is also a fact that some of us do not understand plastics that well.

However, it’s true that recently consumers and public health experts have been expressing more concern about the potential health effects of our exposure to plastic.

One thing the last several years has taught us is that plastics is that the chemicals used to manufacture plastics can leach into the food we are eating.

A study by Zimmermann et al. (2019) analysed 34 everyday plastic products made of eight types of plastic to investigate the presence of toxicity and they discovered that 74% of the products tested were toxic in some ways.

In the products, over 1,000 chemicals were detected in the plastics, yet 80% of them remain unknown. This emphasizes the fact that many of us may not understand the full breadth of the safety of chemicals found in plastics.

Well-known examples of hazardous chemicals include BPA (found in plastic water bottles, plastic storage containers, thermal paper receipts and food can linings) as well as phthalates, typically used to make PVC plastics more flexible.

Vector plastic resin codes icons. Garbage waste sorting recycling icons. Reduce reuse recycle. Plastic bottles and other plastic materials. Vector plastic icons illustration.

The Plastic Waste Problem

With the millions of plastic products available and increasing production of plastic products to meet our demands, it stands true that plastic waste is a serious problem, especially with the lack of a comprehensive recycling system that encompasses all seven types of plastic.

More needs to be done to address this.

As a social enterprise pushing the boundaries of sustainability and social innovation, we’re proud to have Beyond Bins on board to champion our efforts in creating a circular economy.

By looping in plastic waste (specifically, Type 2 and 5) and the underserved communities, we create a system where nothing is left behind.

As consumers, we vote with our wallets.

It’s crucial that we exercise choice where we can to let others be aware of sustainable and innovative solutions instead of producing more waste.

Zhi Yee writes for Biji-biji Initiative a partner organization of Waste or Create hub  She is a biology/ecology graduate with experience in sustainability programming, research, and educational programs.

ZHI YEE TEH
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