We’ve got a plastic downside: we’re virtually swimming within the stuff. Most People notice that our challenge with plastic waste is an environmental disaster affecting just about each marine and freshwater ecosystem on the market. And but, we maintain churning out single-use plastic at an incomprehensible velocity. In response to the information, we might have extra plastic by weight than fish within the ocean by 2050. In america alone, almost 60 million single-use plastic water bottles are tossed within the trash every day. Even scarier: that quantity displays a mere fraction of the every day plastic waste thrown out worldwide with one report detailing world consumption of 1 million plastic bottles each single minute.

So sure, we have now an enormous plastic downside. However because of a brand new materials by Eastman Specialty Plastics, manufacturers like Nalgene, CamelBak and HydraPak could have the beginnings of an answer. The key: Tritan Renew, a BPA-free materials derived from 50% recycled content material, or waste plastic. Whereas the idea sounds easy, the science behind the know-how is something however primary.

“That is just like the Holy Grail of reusable water bottles,” says Eric Hansen, advertising director for Nalgene Outside Merchandise. “We’ve all been trying to find this for over a decade.”

The magic behind Tritan Renew exists because of a particular sort of recycling used to transform waste plastic into client merchandise like reusable water bottles. Initially, Eastman tried to make use of mechanical recycling, a extra conventional strategy that transforms plastic waste by grinding, washing, separating and compounding the polymers into new plastic supplies. Nevertheless, Eastman was unsuccessful in that strategy. In 2019, they arrived at Nalgene’s Tennessee manufacturing manufacturing unit to start engaged on chemical recycling, the famous person course of that makes Tritan Renew attainable.

Eastman makes use of one thing known as polyester renewal know-how (PRT), a chemistry course of that breaks down waste plastics (like single-use water bottles) into molecular constructing blocks. No mashing or smashing is required; the transformation is completed at a molecular stage. Then, these particles could be reused and constructed into new plastic merchandise, like Tritan Renew.

“It’s simply as sturdy because the outdated Tritan that we used for years, solely now half of it’s recycled content material,” Hansen says. “We’ve got a reusable container, we took it one step additional, and now it’s nearly a closed loop.”

A hand holds a Nalgene water bottle with snowcapped peaks in the distance
New water bottles made with Tritan Renew are simply as sturdy, solely made with half recycled content material, based on Nalgene. (Picture Courtesy: Nalgene)

That’s the crux of the dialog: the closed loop. Hansen is referencing the notion of a round financial system, the gold commonplace in sustainable manufacturing. This differs from the traditionally in style linear financial mannequin that follows a “take-make-waste” plan the place we take supplies, make a product, after which throw it away. As a substitute, a round mannequin has three most important tenets: maintain merchandise and supplies in use so long as attainable, design merchandise with minimal waste and air pollution, and emphasize renewable and recycled supplies. This fashion of doing enterprise reduces strain on the setting whereas additionally minimizing human influence on our finite assets.

Whereas the round mannequin isn’t but a completely closed loop for Nalgene, Tritan Renew takes them just a few steps nearer with their new water bottle line. Known as Maintain, the road completely launched at REI in August 2020 and makes use of the recycled plastic to provide reusable bottles that are supposed to keep in rotation for fairly a very long time. Furthermore, the recycled content material in a single Maintain bottle is the equal of eight plastic single-use bottles. Nalgene hopes to ultimately develop a program the place they take outdated water bottles made out of Tritan Renew and manufacture them into new product (the bottles are at present made out of #7 plastic and could also be recyclable in your area). For now, the brand new line each eliminates shoppers’ wants for single-use bottles and minimizes a good bit of the waste plastic headed for our oceans. As an added bonus, utilizing recycled waste plastic reduces 50% of the fossil gas assets initially wanted to make a single reusable water bottle. 

And Nalgene isn’t the one model entering into this area. In response to Danielle Deal, senior class merchandise supervisor for REI, CamelBak and HydraPak are actually making water bottles made with Tritan Renew. The language is hard since every model is looking their new line one thing completely different. Nalgene went with Maintain whereas CamelBak opted for Renew and HydraPak selected Recon. However whereas the language varies, the fabric is identical: bottles constructed with 50% recycled content material. This shift is essential for REI as shops will solely carry the recycled content material bottles shifting ahead.

“The co-op has a local weather dedication, which features a pledge to scale back its carbon footprint by 55% within the subsequent ten years,” Deal says. “It feels like a very long time however there shouldn’t be any delay in shifting assortment selections in the suitable path. That’s the one option to make a deep influence.”

Hansen agrees. Actually, he doesn’t suppose Nalgene is even near completed but.

“Our plan is to ultimately get to 100% recycled content material,” he says. “We’re not there but from a know-how perspective, however that’s undoubtedly the plan.”

For extra tales of manufacturers doing good work, go to our Good Gear touchdown web page.



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