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Covid-19: Increased Plastic Waste

The Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures, has changed consumer behaviour. This has resulted in a significant increase of household plastic waste and use of virgin single-use plastics. At Waste2Wear, we feel this is a worrisome development, especially because pre-Covid, consumers were increasingly more aware of the plastic problem and motivated to change their behaviour.
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July 16, 2020
Plastic Waste

Household Trash Did Increase Significantly

Worldwide, waste increase numbers are staggering. In Hong Kong, people have used 2.2. times more throw-away plastics related to takeout packages since the outbreak, compared with the same time period last year. Deliveries were up by 25% in March, April and May in China. The volume of household waste in Thailand, and particularly plastic waste, has risen 15% due to three times as many food deliveries a day nationwide. And next to food, we’re all ordering more goods online that often uses plastic packaging.

What Is Worrying, While Waste Increases Recycling Capacity Decreases

With everyone staying in, it’s no surprise that household waste has peaked over the last few months. What is worrying though: while household waste increases, recycling capacity decreases. In 80 communities in America, temporary suspensions in curbside recycling or yard waste collections have been reported. In many of the main recycling countries in Asia, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and India, city lockdowns in combination with social distancing restrictions, have resulted in only 30% of recyclers continuing operations.

Face Masks Becoming a Plastic Problem

Today, governments around the globe make the wearing of face masks compulsory in enclosed spaces because it is an important measure to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. There are however, three issues we believe should not be overlooked. One, the disposable face masks many consumers wear, are a new source of single-use plastic waste. Two, disposable face masks are generally made from a few layers of different types of plastic, called polypropylene. This makes the total product difficult to recycle. Three, polypropylene in thin form has the tendency to deteriorate into very small pieces quickly, if wrongly disposed. These pieces do not deteriorate unless they’re exposed to high temperature or intensive UV rays.

If governments are not responsibly managing the use of face masks by consumers, disposable face masks will continue to add to the world’s immense pile of plastic waste. Fortunately, we also see some small but encouraging developments. In Wuhan, China, they have put out special bins for mask collection. They were collecting about 200-300kg of discarded face masks per day, from a specific area where about 400,000 people live.

The World Needs to Get Back on Track Reducing Plastic Waste

It has to be mentioned that as residential waste has risen, commercial waste has been falling. Filco Carting, a big US waste Management Company, has seen commercial waste drop by 50% since the pandemic hit. However, it is unlikely that this can significantly offset the increase of household and medical waste. Combined with the decreased capacity of waste recycling and companies and governments putting plastic bans on hold, we at Waste2Wear, are concerned that this situation gravely contributes to a deteriorating waste situation across the globe.

If governments are not responsibly managing the use of face masks by consumers, disposable face masks will continue to add to the world’s immense pile of plastic waste. Fortunately, we also see some small but encouraging developments. In Wuhan, China, they have put out special bins for mask collection. They were collecting about 200-300kg of discarded face masks per day, from a specific area where about 400,000 people live.

Be Aware and Act Accordingly

Before Covid hit, an increased number of consumers started to be aware of the world’s plastic problem. Many even actively joined initiatives such as beach clean ups. In today’s changed world, actively reducing plastic waste as a consumer, means being far more conscious about your online ordering behaviour, choosing recycled options over new ones and making the effort to purchase a reusable face mask. We, at Waste2Wear, hope you will make these important efforts.

This article is a serie of 3, written by from Monique Maissan, Founder and CEO of Waste2wear, for IPI Journal, Mumbai volume 7, June 2020

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Sven Bleekemolen

Sven Bleekemolen is a Dutch entrepreneur and textile engineer. He is a versatile executive with a broad skill set and experience in a global marketplace. Lived and worked in Europe, Indonesia, and Turkey. Solid expertise in management of start-up to mature fashion companies in competitive wholesale and retail markets.

In his role as director of several companies, Sven built strong knowledge of international wholesale, retail, B2B sales, production and brand development. He has a strategic and innovative mindset, always focused on business development. He has a record of identifying opportunities and leading diverse teams to surpass revenue goals.

Sven has a strong focus on sustainability and is excited to discover the possibilities that lie in Waste2Wear’s groundbreaking material and blockchain technologies. He is committed to creating a major contribution to the business performance of Waste2Wear along with the transition to a more circular economy for a better outcome of the world.

Hein Barnhoorn

Olivier van Migem

Ruma Kinger

Rena Jiang

Rena Jiang has over 20 years experience in the textile industry. Knowing how polluting the industry is, Rena is proud to be making a positive impact by doing the right thing with Waste2Wear.

Christophe Marze

Christophe Marze has over 15 years specializing in structuring and powering up businesses in Asia. As a French national, he has spent many years living and working in Germany and in China. Christophe is passionate about continuous improvement, sustainability and compliance which are from him the pillars of a healthy business drive.

Jeroen van der Wind

Jeroen van der Wind is an entrepreneur, specializing in international trade within the textile and promotional industries in South East Asia for over three decades. He was managing partner of The Cookie Company for many years, producing licensed kids apparel for several multinational customers. In combination with a healthy business drive, he is determined to help further the Waste2Wear mission of relieving the planet of the plastic problem to create a better world, especially for his four adult children.

Eduardo Garza Garcia

Eduardo Garza Garcia is a Mexican designer and entrepreneur specializing in sustainable solutions for plastics. He has been pivotal in innovations including the industry-first recycled polypropylene (RPP) from discarded domestic appliances; a unique RPET verification method (RA-3) proving the recycled plastic content in materials and the industry-first blockchain technology. Thanks to his innovations, Waste2Wear has won several prestigious environmental awards. Eduardo is truly an innovator in the world of recycled plastics constantly working for new ways to bring more transparency to the recycling industry.

Stefan Kleijkamp

Stefan Kleijkamp is a highly experienced Global Quality and Compliance Manager with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Originally from the Netherlands, Stefan has spent the last two decades working in Asia, with 17 of those years in China. He is fluent in Chinese and has worked with a wide range of product groups including textile, apparel, hard goods and plastics. Throughout his career, Stefan has held positions in quality and compliance management for both large and medium sized companies, as well as in purchasing and logistics. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the challenges and issues facing the industry, particularly in relation to traceability of recycled materials such as textile, cotton and polyester. With his expertise in quality and compliance, Stefan is dedicated to ensuring that the products and services provided by Waste2Wear meet the highest standards in quality, sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Monique Maissan

Monique Maissan is a Dutch entrepreneur and textile engineer specializing in sustainable solutions for the industry. As CEO and founder of Waste2Wear, she leads a committed team in creating products and services for a better future. Her vision has driven the company to produce fabrics and products made from recycled plastic bottles (RPET) and recycled polypropylene (RPP) plus award winning blockchain and RPET verification test RA-3.

Monique has won several industry awards, most recently:

Finalist of “Future Leader” World Sustainability Awards 2022;
“Outstanding Achiever” of Global Green Economic Forum, Women Eco Game Changer Awards 2022;
“Woman Leader in Plastic Recycling” Plastic Recycling Conference Asia** 2022;
“The Sustainable Entrepreneur of the Year” of Entrepreneurs’ Organization*** 2021.

She is constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to recycle more plastic. Monique’s drive comes from her determination to do her part to leave this world in a better place for her two adult children and all of the next generation