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Reduce and Reuse Plastic Packaging Amidst Recycling Uncertainties

We recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that begins with an ominous warning:  “The U.S. recycling industry is breaking down.”  Although most of us don’t realize it, much of the recyclable material like paper and plastic that we generate and collect here in the U.S. for recycling has been exported to China for processing for quite some time.  China’s recent import restrictions on this recycled material, which were imposed in an effort to clean up its own environment, have caused prices for scrap paper and plastic to collapse domestically.  The downward trend in scrap prices has left many recyclers struggling to make a profit and scrambling to find a suitable home for the paper and plastic they recover.  Unfortunately, some of this perfectly recyclable scrap material is ending up in landfills rather than being recycled as expected.

With recycling “under siege,” we believe the need for the Cleanyst platform is now more urgent than ever since we focus on both packaging reduction and reuse, in addition to recycling, to make our positive environmental impact.  Don’t get us wrong however—we love recycling and believe it is an essential tool for combating the plastic waste problem.  We therefore don’t want this blog entry to be interpreted as us being negative about recycling, or attempting to undermine confidence in domestic recycling programs.  Nonetheless, domestic recycling programs face an uncertain future and we must confront the realities of the situation with clear eyes.  Indeed, given recent international market trends for our recycled material, we can no longer take for granted that the plastic container we toss in the recycling bin will ultimately get recycled as expected.

Enter Cleanyst, a new reusable bottling platform for easily mixing your favorite types of cleaning and personal care products at home using concentrates and tap water.  We designed our platform to radically reduce plastic packaging waste in two key ways.  First, we will reduce the amount of plastic packaging it takes to deliver a home or body care product to your door.  Since we ship you active ingredients in the form of concentrates, and empower you to mix them at home with tap water, we don’t need the bulky packaging for all that water from the factory.  Second, you will enjoy the products you mix at home in beautiful reusable bottles that will last for years.  By leveraging both packaging reduction and reuse, your positive environmental impact will be guaranteed.  In other words, the environmental benefits of our platform will be “locked in” upfront and you can rest assured that you will make a difference regardless of whether or not any of our packaging is recycled.

Of course, you can still recycle our concentrate pouches through a mail-back program we will offer, and the same is true for the clear body portion of our reusable bottles, which you can simply put in the recycling bin when the time is right after years of reuse.  The critical point is that you no longer must rely solely on recycling your home and body care product packaging to make a positive impact.  We passionately believe that our approach is a huge step in the right direction since, in addition to the plastic reduction estimated to be 68% over a three year period, we also reduce carbon emissions by shipping less water.  If you are serious about doing everything you can to safeguard our planet, we know you will love reducing and reusing with Cleanyst and hope you will join our movement.

Nick Gunia
Co-Founder & Chief Reuse Officer
Miami, FL

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