Whiplash Team. July 2018.

In recent decades, sustainability has ceased to be an almost clandestine issue to become mainstream. As UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encourages citizens, companies, organizations, and governments to assume their commitment towards a healthier and more sustainable planet, the first step is to abandon the “throwaway” culture and adopt new, less polluting production and consumption models.

The fight against plastic waste in Europe scores a new point: as of July 1 Spain is eliminating free plastic bags in shops in addition to the new proposal by the European Commission to reduce the 10 single-use plastic products most oftenly found on the beaches and seas of Europe. With this initiative, the Commission intends to prohibit, amongst others, the sale of cotton swabs as well as cutlery, plates and plastic straws, that represent 70% of marine waste.

The measure, promoted by the Environment Commissioner of the EC Karmenu Vella, is a positive step towards a general rethinking of our relationship with the Planet. Since the 1960’s some 5,000 million tons of plastic have been produced, and every second more than 200 kilograms of plastic waste goes into the oceans.

Currently, 90% of live birds have ingested some type of this material. And by 2050, according to a study by Australian researchers, virtually all seabirds will have plastic in their stomachs, and fish are equally contaminated. Plastic thus, becomes part of our diet showing that what is at risk is not the planet, but life in it. Human beings included.

But plastic waste is only a tiny part of the problem. The commitment to sustainability implies cleaner production and consumption models: clean energies, raw materials from renewable resources, and responsible consumption that puts the 3R rule into practice: reduce our pollution footprint, recycle to consume less raw materials and reuse to extend product life-cycles.

Organizations, slowly but surely, begin to understand that the commitment to sustainability must be intrinsic to their purpose and increasingly begin to adopt sustainable production models, such as the Belgian manufacturer Ecover, for example , that uses ecological or recoverable raw materials as main components for cleaning products, within a production model that tries to consume as little energy as possible. Or the Spanish company Garnica, that manufactures plywood boards, and whose business model, vertically integrated, favors sustainable plantations and promotes the development of new wood-based products, to meet the needs of multiple sectors, such as construction or furniture.

The commitment to sustainability demands an ethical and responsible behavior that translates their business purpose into concrete actions, helping ultimately, to build a more responsible society with the use we give to the resources that the planet offers us. Fighting plastic residue is undoubtedly important, but it is just one of the many open fronts on the road to achieving a circular economy that reduces our pollution footprint and helps improve Earth’s health.