As an environmentally conscious graphic design agency, we are well aware of the consequences our products and services have on the environment and we choose channels, media, and medium to lessen the impact.
For example, we’ve all seen in the news recently how plastics cause havoc throughout the environment. So much so, it has caused individuals to talk about cutting it from their lives and organisations to replace it in their supply chain. However, eliminating plastic at this point in time would be devastating for the environment. Why? Because the current alternatives offer less protection, require more water and produce a larger carbon footprint in their farming, manufacture, distribution, and their disposal (not to mention compostable materials such as potato or corn starch produce methane when disposed of incorrectly, exasperating the greenhouse effect).
Did you know a paper bag needs to be used 4 times (one less than the more durable plastic ‘bag for life’) and a cotton or tote bag 131 times to be more environmentally friendly than a single-use plastic bag?
However, it’s not all doom and gloom; plastic can be part of the solution, particularly if international policy was molded around a reduce, reuse, and recycle principle and an increased financial incentive for responsible disposal.
The UK could improve it’s handling of plastic waste by introducing national standards and facilities to help remove the confusion around domestic recycling. For example, why does one local authority have a completely different system from that of its neighbour?
This is compounded by the use of mindboggling instructions and definitions of what can be recycled and what can’t. For example, plastic food trays are OK; the crinkly plastic film isn’t; a cereal box liner (also crinkly) is! Using the plastic’s scientific name or acronym is even worse: how many people know their PET from their HDPE, PVC or LDPE?
Sometimes, graphic design can come to the rescue – here’s an existing system that has been around for decades that has been overlooked. Look on any piece of plastic and you’ll one find these symbols molded into or printed on to it.
Now, if local authorities printed the accepted recyclables onto the respective wheelie bin – or high street bin for that matter – a quick match of the numbers and the correct method of disposal is identified and contamination reduced. As an internationally recognised, surely this requires less education than existing practices. Plus, we don’t have to look very far to see how it works – it’s been tried and tested New Zealand (among others) for donkey’s years.
It’s not rocket salad! (packaging not currently recyclable).