Here’s How Reusable Packaging Can Benefit The Circular Economy

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I was reading an article on The Earth Day Network, and I was shocked to know that sadly, there are more plastics wastes (Nanoplastics, Macroplastics, and Microplastics) than the number of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. If around 1, 00,000 living creatures die every day in the marine ecosystem, I hope you can imagine the number of deaths reported from the entire ecosystem, including forests, deserts, tundra and grassland.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. containers and packaging makes up almost 30% of all the waste, and this is not because the plastic consumption has gone up, but because we do not care to put the plastics into the proper recycling channel.

Retailers and the consumer packaged goods, which are the packaging materials enveloped over our products, are accelerating in novel ways to eliminate the packaging. From encouraging the proliferation of the bulk food section and fabricating new plastic bags that can be recycled with the advent of the circular economy, the companies are trying their best to support sustainability.

For instance, Green Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based retailer, revealed that they are on their way to eliminate the usage of single-use plastic bags by 2025. They are developing several goals starting from abolishing single-use straws to bottled beverages as a part of their milestone to achieve a sustainability platform.

On this note, as time flies, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) supply chains are also changing. From higher speciality packing to enhancement in the logistics support and the time requested to deliver a product. We have seen an adaptation on how goods are transported and delivered.

All these positive aspects of the e-commerce industry include low cost, efficient logistics support, global support, and personalization. An increasing amount of packaging waste is being generated right now, for which, the current companies are stressing on words such as reusability and sustainability.

Considering the central point, we do understand that reusable packaging supports a circular economy. At any point in the manufacturing process, packaging can be used, reused, and reprocessed without directly or indirectly affecting the solid waste outflux. The convenience turns out to be one of the prime advantages because the limited and the single-use packaging contributes to the waste crisis. Keeping transportation at the core, various reusable packagings such as the totes, containers, racks, and pallets can be manipulated into a sustainable material handling solution.

Reusable packaging supports a circular economy. At any point in the manufacturing process, packaging can be used, reused, and reprocessed without directly or indirectly affecting the solid waste outflux.

Indeed, the reusable packaging companies (especially the startups) are changing the perspective on how CPGs should be delivered. The CPG companies are now entirely focusing on reusability, by embracing the packing techniques in their warehouses, distribution centers, retail stores, and transportation, to maximize the circular economy; thus, leaping towards sustainability.

Loop has introduced the idea of transiting the everyday packaging with single-use plastics from disposable to reusable. The novel delivery system amalgamates the traditional, old school home-delivery business model with the subscription-based market.  The packaged boxes which they used to send every month have metamorphosed into automatic replenishment, according to the customers’ tastes. The  company calls the strategy as “the first subscription model that manages itself.”

Waste reduction is not the only advantage when we look at reusable packaging. The following points illustrate the other supplementary ideas, which increase supply chain sustainability:

1. Reduces The Packaging Waste

Having a long service life, reusable packing can be used over and over again throughout the entire supply chain; thus diminishing the waste accumulation. Additionally, multiple layers of papers and plastic waste can be eliminated by reusable packing, aiming to reduce waste generation.

2. The Full Load Shipment Increases

Various unpredictable conditions may arise due to inconsistent and inadequate packing, while recycling packaging utilizes standard and consistent packing, using the shipment efficiently by providing a fully cubed-out truckload. Reusable packaging manufacturers are even introducing lightweight options to accommodate for more product weight. In addition to improved pack ratios, these are instrumental features.

3. Minimizes Product Loss And Damage

Efficient packaging is durable and helps customers receive an intact product. Furthermore, with an enhanced pacing ratio, accompanied by stable stackability, these packaging materials retain product integrity throughout the supply chain and logistics.

4. Packaging Recycling Is Enhanced

The advantage of these pacing materials lies in the fact that these can be reused, recycled, and reprocessed into a different packaging material; thus preventing the initial waste from being dumped into the landfill. The reusable packaging can be managed accordingly, and therefore, shall help to maximize the utilization and minimize the absolute waste generation. By investing in innovative supply chain solutions that embrace circular economy principles, companies can ensure competitive advantage, future growth, and customer confidence.

This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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