Your plastic footprint isn't confined to packaging at grocery stores and the lining on your takeaway coffee cup. You can calculate your plastic footprint and the plastic footprint of your business using this calculator. Here, we explore exactly what the calculator is measuring. Use the plastic footprint calculator to discover how much plastic you don't realise you're using.
The calculator asks questions about the household, including the area you live in, the type of home you live in, whether you have recycling pick-up or a container deposit scheme. In Europe, 20% of plastic produced is used in building and construction, and another 17% is used in appliances and furniture. In Australia, more than 85% of furniture we put on the curb isn't recycled and is instead sent to landfill. This is mostly 'invisible plastic' – plastic we either do not see, or do not think of as a problem. The larger your home, the more plastic it uses. Each person in your home is accountable for a portion of that plastic footprint. Think about your business and where you largest sources of plastic might be within your premises.
The calculator's questions about transportation include your primary mode of transport, and whether you have a personal, family, shared or no car. An average car lasts 8 years and can contain over 300kg of plastic. In 2016, 51% of Australian households had two or more motor vehicles. When you sit in your car, unless you have leather interior, chances are everything you touch will be plastic. What kind of transport do you use for your business? Consider the plastic volume in your vehicle.
Here, the calculator asks questions like how often you purchase meals outside the house, how often you purchase convenience foods, and how much takeaway packaging do you buy. This is the kind of plastic waste that finds itself constantly in the media, and tips to reduce plastic consumption usually include taking your own coffee cup, packing lunch, and refusing straws. If you own a business, consider moving to compostable packaging and encouraging customers to bring their own containers and cups.
In this section the calculator asks whether you use real or e-cigarettes, how often you buy clothing, whether you have a pet, and if you use reusable bags. Plastic is in polyester, nylon, spandex, and many other textiles. It also comes as packaging on pet food and in pet toys. We often don't realise that what we are buying, while it may not have such a short lifecycle as food packaging, also contributes to the plastic problem. Consider business items such as cloth napkins and takeaway bags. How could you reduce the plastic consumption of these?
The final questions ask about how many electronic devices you own, and how often you shop online. Plastics are in our phones, computers, tablets, and televisions. Online shopping relies heavily on plastic envelopes and plastic packaging that ensures our products arrive safely. To prevent plastic consumption in these areas, always recycle your e-waste, don't buy more than you need or replace items when they're not broken, and buy from local shops that wrap your products in compostable packaging. You can implement these principles into your business. Consider only replacing computers when they are broken, and if you provide delivery try to only wrap items in sustainable materials.
Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. Stay safe.