As an unyielding optimist, it is often difficult to design for an audience that doesn’t share a positive, engaged worldview. It can be hard knowing that, for example, even if greener, more responsible technologies exist, consumers may not be ready to accept them. Or knowing that sometimes designing a package out of a non-recyclable material may actually be better than a heavier, recyclable material (like the handwash refill package we developed at method, for example). Sometimes the reality of a consumers demands don’t synch with the ideal environmental solution.
Whether to design for the worst case scenario or the best case is a difficult question to answer, but it’s one that I spend a lot of time asking. When possible, though, designing for both scenarios should be the answer, which is why I loved the idea of Planet Green Bottle’s biodegradable plastic, called Reverte. Having spent much of the past two years working to develop 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles, we’ve focused a lot of energy on securing a sustainable source for our materials and ensuring that they remain fully recyclable. This is a tremendous accomplishment, and one not to be taken lightly, but it remains a reality that about 75% of plastic bottles in North America still end up in landfills– ours included. Our bottles are designed to be sustainable in the bast case scenario, when the consumer recycles the bottle, but falls short if the consumer throws it in the trash.
Planet Green Bottle’s innovative plastic additive, however, offers a time-delayed biodegradability that breaks down plastic even in landfill conditions. By severing the bonds of a carbon chain into pieces that are small enough to be used as food for microbes, Reverte leaves nothing but CO2 and water behind. And, most impressively, the reaction can be delayed for anywhere from 2 or 5 years, so products can live a normal shelf life without fear of spoiling, leaking, etc.
Although there are plenty of questions that need further answers (does it truly not affect recycling streams? will it really biodegrade in a sealed landfill layer?), it’s nevertheless an exciting opportunity to incorporate optimism in design, knowing that however a product is used and disposed of, it’ll have a beautiful afterlife.
thanks to 2composer for the photo