Plant-Based Plastic: Making Single-Use Sustainable

By Sarah Denker

While it’s always best to reduce and reuse when it comes to plastic, sometimes disposable products are simply unavoidable. Most of these single-use products, however, are made of plastic—not only depleting petroleum resources but ensuring that your foam coffee cup or clear plastic wrap stays on Earth far beyond its use. Luckily, with today’s research and advancements, Eco-Products is finding ways to design compostable and recyclable disposables to add sustainability to single-use items.Eco Products Logo

Plastic is an unavoidable part of today’s culture. It takes hundreds to thousands of years to “decompose,” but it never fully goes away—instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces until it becomes microplastic and pollutes Earth’s natural resources. In recent years, it’s become extremely important to be sustainable, but sometimes, you just can’t get around it. When it comes to food packaging and hSingle Use Plasticsygiene, non-plastic items are hard to come by. However, Eco-Products uses biodegradable materials to create single-use items that are just that.

One of the more interesting techniques used to accomplish this is using plant-based plastic. Eco-Products’ hot food items, for example, use a sugar cane-based material.

Plastic today is made from polyethylene, a synthetic resin compound, and is not biodegradable because the polyethylene in question is drawn from oil. However, relatively new to technology is the use of sugarcane polyethylene—drawn from the waste products of sugar cane extraction. Similar products are made using materials drawn from corn starch. This is what Eco-Products uses to create a plastic with all the associated benefits of typical packaging, while still being biodegradable. In fact, in a composting facility, the sugar cane will biodegrade within 120 days.

Proudly stated on the compEco Products Cupsany’s website, “we’re not a disposable products company trying to act green, we’re a green company who happens to operate in disposables.” Eco-Products was founded in 1990 with the goal of providing products made from recycled materials. However, as demand grew from increasing discussion of fossil fuels, the company shifted their sustainability goals to biodegradable materials. According to the team at Eco-Products, "we need all the oil we have to do more important things […] so your disposable cup, a product that you spend mere minutes with and then toss, is not the best use of this extremely valuable resource."

Now, everything offered by Eco-Products is either 100% biodegradable, or uses post-consumer recycled plastic—and even then, the amount of petroleum-based plastic used is still decreasing, showing a real commitment to sustainable disposables.


Eco-Products is continuing to put out new plant-based plastic products, including cups, bowls, straws, utensils, lids, and more. They can be found at www.ecoproductsstore.com.


E-scooter Retailer Shows Devotion to Sustainability

fluidfreeride, a leading retailer in the electric scooter industry, shows their continued commitment and support for a cleaner, healthier environment by planting one million trees across the globe in partnership with the non-profit organization, Trees for the Future (TREES). In cefluidfreeride Scooterlebration of this milestone, consumers can use the code 1MILLIONTREES on fluidfreeride.com to receive 10% off their entire line of premium e-scooters for one week until February 15. A percentage of all proceeds will continue to be donated to Trees for the Future in support of the company’s social corporate responsibility commitment.

“We deeply care about supporting the planet and smallholder farmers, this is why we have partnered with Trees for the Future,” says Julian Fernau, CEO and Founder of fluidfreeride. “We are incredibly proud to reach the milestone of one million trees planted. This complements our effort in providing clean transportation by more than offsetting the carbon emissions of our operation and supply chain.”

TREES trains farmers in agroforestry, teaching them to grow sustainable farming systems called Forest Gardens. The average one-acre Forest Garden is home to more than 4,000 trees and sequesters about 63 metric tons of carbon over 20 years. Forest Gardens restore the soil and natural biodiversity of the land while providing food and income opportunities to the farming family. Fernau adds, “Not only does this capture CO2 and improve biodiversity, it puts an end to poverty and hunger through a sustainable system that is better for our planet.”

“Companies like fluidfreeride are crucial in environmental restoration and protection,” adds Trees for the Future Executive Director John Leary. “With support from fluidfreeride, as well as individual donors and institutional funders, we are able to reach more farmers and plant more trees this year than ever before.” In fact, Trees for the Future has planted moTrees For the Future.orgre than 215 million trees around the globe over the past 30 years. Trees are planted at different times throughout the year based on regional seasons and planting schedules.

From the use of sustainable shipping supplies and packaging to their “second life” broken battery program, fluidfreeride’s sustainability commitment can be found in everything that they do. The fluidfreeride community has also doubled in size last year, in turn helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions for travel. By using an electric scooter instead of a car for just two 5-mile rides per week, the community has saved over 10,500 tons of CO2 entering the atmosphere in 2021, which is the equivalent of 160 flights from Los Angeles to New York.

To learn more about fluidfreeride and to redeem the 10% discount code 1MILLIONTREES, please visit fluidfreeride.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Visit trees.org to learn more about Trees for the Future and how you too can support this important cause.


Coffee Filter: 8 Practical and Alternative Uses

It was over 100 years ago, in the summer of 1908, that a German housewife named Melitta Bentz created the first paper coffee filter.  She wanted to remove the bitter taste she associated with boiling loose grounds and find an alternative to the popular method of using linen to brew coffee.  She thought that if she could pour boiling water over the grounds, but filter them out, the bitterness would be reduced.

Coffee Filter

The story tells of her ingenuity as she punctured holes in the bottom of a brass pot, lined it with blotting paper taken from the school books of her two sons, and thus created, in principle, the first coffee filter.  The Imperial Patent Office in Berlin issued a patent to protect the invention as a utility model, and after some fine-tuning, in 1912 her now famous family started producing paper filters, and later, filter bags.

Now, more than a century later, the idea born from the vision of Melitta Bentz has morphed into a product still in use today.  The company, Melitta, is now run by her grandchildren and markets coffee, filters, and machines branded with her name.

8 Great Alternative Uses for Coffee Filters:

  • Strain wine from a bottle containing a broken cork—Put a filter over a carafe or decanter and pour the wine through the filter.  The filter will trap any pieces of cork that were floating in the bottle.
  • Use as splatter guard—when heating up food in microwave.
  • Chip-free fine china—Use coffee filters placed between the plates and cups when you stack your good china dishes to protect them from chips and scratches.
  • Prevent soil from draining from flowerpots—For planting or repotting, put a coffee filter at the bottom over the drainage hole, then, add the soil.  This will prevent the soil from spilling from the bottom of the pot, but permits proper water drainage.
  • Steep Loose Leaf Tea—in a bind, make your own tea bag!
  • Snack Cups—dole out snacks, keeping portions in control
  • Keep your kids clean when eating ice pops—Simply slide the wooden stick of a child’s favorite ice pop through a coffee filter and you’ll have happy and sticky-free kids!
  • Clean windows and glass—Use coffee filters as an emergency substitute for paper towels.  They leave no lint or residue and can fit on your hand like a mitt.


Colgate® Launches its Groundbreaking Recyclable Toothpaste Tube

Colgate is rolling out its breakthrough recyclable tube in the U.S. and using a bold message on its package to help get the word out.  Colgate-Palmolive's tube, the first to be recognized by external recycling authorities as recyclable, is made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), the same No. 2 plastic used for milk and detergent bottles. Recycling the tube alongside plastic bottles requires no extra steps -- no rinsing, cutting or cleaning before tossing it into a recycling bin.

Colgate Recycle Tubes

But making a toothpaste tube that is recyclable is only half the battle. Traditionally, since most of the world's toothpaste tubes are made with a mix of materials, they have not been recycled. Globally, that adds up to 20 billion toothpaste tubes a year that are tossed in the trash.Woman Smiling

To alert shoppers that the Colgate tube is now recyclable, Colgate is bringing it out in a "Recycle Me!" tube. The bold, limited-edition graphics will be found on select tubes of Colgate® Optic White Advanced Sparkling White, Colgate® Cavity Protection, Colgate® Max Fresh Cool, and Colgate® Total Whitening, with the transition of the rest of the Colgate toothpaste line to be completed by 2023.

The goal of "Recycle Me!" is to build awareness of recyclable tubes not only among consumers, but also the operators of the Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) that sort plastic, reprocessors that make resin from recycled plastic, and other recycling stakeholders.

"As the global toothpaste leader with a brand found in more homes than any other, we want to lead in waste reduction and, in particular, making toothpaste tubes a part of the circular economy. The Recycle Me! tube is designed to educate and engage consumers and the recycling community who are both essential to progress, and we are excited to initiate and learn from our upcoming pilot program," said Dana Medema, Vice President & General Manager, Oral Care for Colgate-Palmolive in North America.

Colgate-Palmolive is developing a recyclable tube pilot program in partnership with peer companies and working with a leading MRF and reprocessor in the U.S. The pilot will focus on one county or municipality to test how educational efforts can build tube recycling rates and assess the quality of the tube material that is collected for reprocessing. The data will be used to define easy-to-action best practices for tube recycling to be shared with communities and recyclers around the country.

Colgate-Palmolive has taken other important actions to build momentum for the adoption and acceptance of recyclable tubes.

Colgate LogoOne was to use HDPE. Colgate chose it because the HDPE bottle stream has one of the highest recycling rates, at about 30% in the U.S. It wasn't easy to work with; HDPE is rigid and not well suited for squeezable tubes. But by combining different layers of HDPE laminate at varying thicknesses, Colgate engineers were able to produce a soft, easy-to-squeeze recyclable tube that will also protect the product across roughly 150 brushing occasions during the life of a typical 6 oz. tube.

The other was to share its recyclable tube know-how with other companies, including competitors, through some 50 packaging forums and 1-on-1 meetings to promote the transition to recyclable tubes. For recyclable tubes to be a success, it requires a critical mass of tubes on shelf that meet recycling standards. That will encourage the recycling community to add tubes to their lists of acceptable materials and support a new habit among consumers to recycle tubes.

Momentum is building.  Major toothpaste brands, which with Colgate account for 90% of the US market, have publicly committed to switching to recyclable HDPE toothpaste tubes by 2025.  During this transition phase, acceptance of tubes at certain recycling facilities may be limited, and consumers should check with their local community facilities.

"Recycle Me!" Limited Edition

Colgate® Total Whitening 4.8 oz, MSRP: $3.99; Colgate® Max Fresh Cool Mint 6 oz, MSRP: $2.99; Colgate® Optic White Advanced Sparkling White 3.2 oz, MSRP: $4.99; Colgate® Cavity Protection 6 oz, MSRP: $1.67; available online and at major retailers nationwide including Target and Amazon.

For more information about Colgate's global business and how the Company is building a future to smile about, visit www.colgatepalmolive.com.


Recycling of Personal Protective Equipment

Single-use personal protective equipment (from masks to gloves etc.) are hard to recycle in traditional recycling systems as they cost more for local recyclers to collect and process than the resulting materials are worth.

TerraCycle is able to recycle such waste streams through our Zero Waste Box™ paid recycling services where interested locations can fund the actual cost oWoman wearing PPEf collecting and recycling this waste stream minus what the resulting recycled materials are worth.

For many years, TerraCycle had offered PPE recycling for facilities and other industrial locations. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they revised the system to cater to the broader demand in PPE recycling that is present today.

1. Collection

The PPE (such as disposable face masks, visors, disposable gloves, ear plugs, beard snoods, hair nets, safety glasses or disposable garments etc.) are collected in the Zero Waste Box that was purchased. Once the box is full, it should be sealed and sent back to TerraCycle using the prepaid return label that is located on the back of each box.  Click here to find a public drop-off location.

Please note: In accordance with legal guidelines, they cannot accept medical waste, such as material contaminated with blood or bodily fluids or wastes from healthcare facilities, hospitals, home care, doctors' offices, dental offices, blood banks, veterinary clinics, research laboratories, etc. They also cannot accept fabric, homemade or paper masks in our PPE Zero Waste Box™.


2. Check in

When the shipment arrives at a dedicated TerraCycle Material Recovery Facility (“MRF”), always in the country of collection, it is checked in and weighed. All Zero Waste Boxes are quarantined on arrival for a minimum of 72 hours to protect our team members handling the waste.

The TerraCycle team then visually inspects the waste for visible contamination and consolidates it into a bulk format to be transported for processing at our various third-party facilities that specialize in processing the waste into recycled materials.

PPE Recycle Box3. Recycling

TerraCycle stores and aggregates the collected PPE waste until the necessary volumes for processing have been achieved. The waste is then sorted into categories based on material composition (rubbers, metals, non-woven plastic, elastane, etc.) by utilizing a wide array of sorting technologies including manual sortation, size separation, sink/float, optical, air density, gravity, magnetic, etc.
The different materials types are then sent to third-party processing partners that recycle the materials into usable forms (i.e., non-woven plastics are recycled into plastic pellets and granules.)

  • The metals are manually removed and sent locally for smelting into new bar stock and metal sheeting.
  • The polypropylene-dominant mixture from the face mask is densified into a crumb-like raw material that’s used in plastic lumber and composite decking applications.
  • The elastane or rubber band portion is ground into a fine mesh regrind and mixed with recycled plastics as an additive to provide flexibility and malleability to products.
  • Gloves are processed into a rubberized powder which is used for flooring tiles, playground surface covers and even athletic fields.

4. New Products

The resulting recycled material is used by third parties to manufacture a variety of new products including outdoor furniture, plastic shipping pallets, outdoor decking, watering cans, storage containers, bins, tubes for construction applications, etc.

Recycling Certificates

Zero Waste Box customers can request a Certificate of Destruction (or Recycling Certificates) once per calendar year. The certificate will detail all shipments that have been received by TerraCycle from the customer’s account, including weight and type of material received, as well as certify that the material was properly converted into a new material for manufacturing.

What safety measures are in place for the collection and recycling of PPE waste?

  • TerraCycle does not collect hazardous waste from hospitals and medical centers.
  • Your Zero Waste Box should be fully sealed with adhesive tape and stored securely for 72 hours before requesting a collection.
  • They will quarantine any PPE waste coming into our facilities for a minimum of 72 hours for the safety of our operators.

Why use Zero Waste Box?

Zero Waste Box is a turnkey and convenient solution which includes the storage, shipping and recycling of a waste stream that isn’t currently locally recyclable.  For more info, visit https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/


The First Ultra Functional and Zero Waste Shopping Bag System

Recently, BRINGiT Bags announced the official launch of its debut collection, including a first-of-its-kind shopping kit system, fulfilling a need in the market for a functional and sustainBringIt Bagsable substitute for plastic and cotton bags. The innovative and fashionable collection features the iTKit, an all-in-one shopping solution including a tote, shopper and assortment of produce bags that fit together for convenient storage and transport.

Crafted from material derived from beechwood and eucalyptus trees, each piece is lightweight and soft to the touch – yet durable for regular trips to the market, big and small. BRINGiT bags are designed to incorporate everything one needs for a plastic-free trip to the market, with the added benefits of organization and ease of cleaning. Every detail – from pocket placement to handle widths – is designed with consumer comfort and convenience in mind.

Ranging from $16.95 to $69.95, BRINGiT bags are made from LENZING™ Lyocell and LENZING™ Modal Color fibers. They’re machine washable (without releasing microplastics), tear resistant, home compostable and designed to ensure a stress free and sustainable visit to the store and beyond. The debut collection includes:

  • iTKit Shopping System (8 bags of various design), $69.95
  • Produce Bags (set of 6, various sizes), $29.95
  • iTBag Shopper, $16.95

Single Use Vs. Reusable“We were inspired by the innovative and emerging material used often in sustainable apparel and the need for planet friendly reusable tote options. We saw a massive opportunity to outfit bags – an everyday accessory – in this fabric,” said Deb Singer, co-founder of BRINGiT. “Not only is the fabric soft and durable, but it’s made from renewable source material that can return to the ecosystem at the end of its life cycle.  Our bags have significantly less environmental impact than any other bag on the market, reusable or otherwise.”

Co-founded by Singer and Karin Heck, the company helps consumers make a difference and positive impact with every shopping trip. Singer pioneered Whole Foods Market’s plastic bag ban in 2007, and Heck is an accomplished operational leader with deep consumer product experience. The two joined forces after discovering their shared vision for a world without plastic bag pollution and a desire to create a more significant impact. Unlike problematic and overproduced cotton bags or traditional reusable bags made of polypropylene that impact human and animal health, BRINGiT has fashioned its bags in eco-friendly cellulose tree fiber that composts to nourish the earth instead of polluting it.

“The U.S. goes through 200 billion plastic bags and 66 billion produce bags per year, and we have an opportunity to help reduce that number,” said Heck. “One iTKit alone displaces 3,500 plastic bags over its lifetime, so a single individual can truly help make a difference. BRINGiT is leading consumers into a revolution of reusables by making it fashionable and functional to refuse plastic bags.”

BringIt Logo

Launched in 2021, BRINGiT is a collection of reusable and plastic-free shopping bags fulfilling a need in the market for a functional and sustainable substitute for plastic bags. Featuring the iTKiT, an all-in-one shopping solution including a tote, shopper and produce bags, the brand offers everything you need for a plastic-free, organized trip to the market. One-of-a-kind, BRINGiT’s bags are made of cellulose tree fiber and are washable, tear resistant, home compostable and feature chic colorways and prints.

For more information and to shop the collection, please visit bringitbags.com.