What if a major producer of plastic waste, like Pepsi Co. or Coca-Cola, was responsible for recovering every single piece of plastic they produced? It would go a long way towards slowing the crush of plastic that threatens to drown our planet. Yet gigantic companies like these--and their shareholders--have little appetite for addressing such a task; it's more convenient for them to distract us with flashy band-aid solutions ("Look, we cleaned up this one beach!").
However, smaller companies like Defunkify, an Oregon-based producer of cleaning solutions and detergents, can be brave enough to attempt net-zero solutions. Defunkify recently released documentation of their 2021 Plastic Footprint, which reveals that they have met their goal of removing 41,751 pounds of plastic pollution from the environment. "This amount of plastic pollution that we removed," the company claims, "is equivalent to the amount we used in our packaging."
Making such a calculation required "measuring every bottle, every cap, every spray nozzle, every bag, even all the tape used across our entire product portfolio," the company writes. Accomplishment aside, they realize they have more to do. If you've ever seen a palette being loaded onto or taken off of a truck, you've noticed they're all wrapped in plastic film:
Defunkify's 2021 report makes no mention of this plastic film in their calculations. But they do note that "While measuring and offsetting our plastic footprint is important, our ultimate goal is to eliminate all plastic trash from our products. A goal we aim to achieve this year."
On the one hand, the company must be lauded for their mentality and efforts. On the other hand, we must remember that 41,751 pounds of plastic is a mere speck within the 300 million tons of plastic waste produced each year. Unless larger companies are pressured by consumers into following suit, the overall effect on the planet and our bodies will not change.