More companies need to invest less in environmentally friendly packaging at a consumer level and more environmentally friendly packaging at the manufacturing level. Most companies have started or are starting to create more environmentally friendly packaging on a consumer level after pushback in the media. In order for companies to stay relevant with the current culture they have been forced to update their packaging to more environmentally friendly packaging that satisfies the consumer. However, many companies have gotten away with not updating their production methods as the consumers don’t see this part of the process. For example, Starbucks has recently switched to paper cups lids and straws and has a recycling program in place. However, I can tell you from working there. That they do not have any manufacturing standards in place for bettering the packaging. For example, every 15 paper cups comes in a big plastic bag that we take out of and the customer never sees, our caramel drizzle comes in big plastic bags, our syrups all come in plastic jugs, and all of our milks come in big plastic gallons. There has been no thought when it comes to the manufacturing side of things to reduce our plastic waste and waste overall. All of these the customer never sees, which is why so many companies are able to get away with it. I think we won’t be able to make an impact on our waste problem until we dive deeper into each company’s manufacturing as well as through the customer experience.
However, one thing we can do is to change the reward programs for recycling. These programs currently don’t work nearly as well as they could. There is no benefit or incentive that gets people to recycle. If there are any incentives they are very minor and usually make people think it is not worth it. If we want these recycling programs to work then we must make the incentives and rewards bigger. This will help us reduce the plastic waste in our oceans as well as taking a deeper look into companies manufacturing practices. By taking a deeper look we can help and force them to change to more compostable products for sending the customers products. We can end ocean waste because it will compost before it even reaches the ocean. By increasing the benefits of recycling for the consumer less people will want to litter or throw things in the trash and would switch to more acceptable practices and therefore will result in less waste in the oceans. Together, these two changes will decrease the waste in our oceans as they will result in less waste overall. If we all do our part in the media companies will change both their consumer and manufacturing practices and the media will help convey the benefits of better recycling programs
Samuel Thomas Jensen
Arizona State University