How do you remove plastic from the ocean? And from where?
We have partnered with the incredible team at Seven Clean Seas, an ocean clean-up organisation based in Bali, to remove marine plastic from coastlines, mangroves, rivers and nearshore areas in Bintan, Indonesia. They have committed to recovering over 10 million kilos of marine debris by 2025 from the top 7 worst plastic polluted countries in the world!
One of the things that attracted us to 7CS was their ethical stance on labour. Seven Clean Seas formally employs waste pickers in Indonesia, so they can provide full transparency on where the plastic waste is collected, deposited and who collected it. They pay fair wages to their staff in local communities, offering them a stable source of income. This ensures there is no green-washing or exploitation of cheap labour. Seven Clean Seas helps clean the environment and support the local community at the same time. It’s a win-win seauation.
When you say “this can/bottle removes 2 x plastic bottles* from our oceans”, what does that mean?
For every bottle or can of Lo Bros we sell, we will remove the equivalent weight of 2 PET bottles worth of plastic from marine environments. While a huge amount of what Seven Clean Seas remove is plastic bottles, it could also be straws or discarded fishing line. At the end of the day, we need all types of plastic out of our oceans so we’re not discriminating!
What does “equivalent weight in plastic” mean?
Working with our partners, Seven Clean Seas, the weight of a plastic bottle is defined the following:
- For a 330ml glass bottle: a 330ml plastic soft drink bottle (and cap to be exact!) is defined as 15.5 grams. That means we remove 31 (=2*15.5) grams of plastic for every bottle of Lo Bros Kombucha we sell.
- For a 250ml can: a 250ml plastic soft drink bottle (and cap to be exact!) is defined as 12 grams. That means we remove 24 (=2*12) grams of plastic for every can of Lo Bros Kombucha we sell.
Just in case you thought we might be pulling a swift-one and removing the weight of flimsy water bottles, we’re not.
How is ‘ocean plastic’ defined?
Ocean plastic refers specifically to the plastic debris found in the marine environment. It is thought that 80% of marine debris is plastic.
How come you are not cleaning up your own backyard first?
We are working on the most affected areas in the world first and foremost. Not only to clean up plastic out of the ocean, but 7CS help to set up infrastructure to help the root cause of the issue. Unfortunately, no matter where you pollute, a lot of it ends up in these areas.
What happens to the plastic you remove from the ocean?
Much of the environmental plastic that is collected is highly contaminated with organic matter, tar or even degraded by UV radiation. Therefore, most of the plastics collected cannot be recycled. Only a small percentage (~5%) of the total plastic collected is recyclable and are almost solely PET bottles and are donated to the local informal sector. The remainder has to be treated in a government-owned and managed landfill to permanently ensure it remains out of the environment. This end-of-life solution has been successfully third party audited by Control Union against the Zero Plastic Oceans certification, to ensure it remains permanently out of the environment. Additionally, Seven Clean Seas are investing in material research and development to find upcycling solutions for the non-recyclable material so that one day, they can achieve zero waste to landfill! It’s not perfect but it’s better than polluting our oceans.
What is PET and what’s the big issue with plastic bottles?
PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate and is a widely used type of plastic most commonly used in soft drink bottles. They are cheap and are of little value once emptied of their fizzy contents - did you know PET bottles can only be recycled 2-3 times! Half a trillion plastic bottles are produced and sold every year, and up to 34 billion of these end up in our oceans and waterways. Like us you might have thought putting plastic bottles in the right bin meant they’d be…recycled. Sometimes they are, often they’re not. This is NOT okay. That’s why Lo Bros is cleaning up plastic and why we’ll only ever be sold in higher value, infinitely recyclable glass or aluminium, we know it’s not perfect but it’s better.
Does Lo Bros use plastic? I am sure you still use plastic? What about that? I assume you wrap your pallets in plastic?
Yes, we use plastic. Unfortunately, it is mostly an unavoidable cost of doing business.
However! We have partnered with Plastic Collective, a leading global player creating circular economies for plastic. By auditing Lo Bros’ plastic footprint, they’ve helped us identify ‘plastic hotspots’ that exist in our business so that we can take concrete action to phase out all avoidable plastic. So for example, due to our current manufacturing capabilities we’re forced to use plastic shrink wrap to keep our glass bottles safe in their cardboard tray. The plastic is fully recyclable and is made of 30% recycled material, however knowing this is still not acceptable we are working with our partners and suppliers to remove this plastic entirely. Unfortunately, the change isn’t possible overnight. We have committed to having this shrink wrap abolished by the end of 2024, making all of Lo Bros primary and secondary packaging plastic free. For all the unavoidable plastic that remains, we’ll be partnering with leading projects to offset this through the collection and recycling of environmental plastic. So for every piece of plastic we use across Lo Bros - we’ll remove the equivalent weight from our natural environment, making us a net zero plastic brand. Whilst ‘Plastic Neutrality’ or ‘net zero’ is great, we think we can do a lot more, which is why on top of our current commitments, we’ll also be partnering with Seven Clean Seas to become ‘Plastic Awesome’! This means removing above and beyond our fair share of our plastic footprint by recovering the equivalent weight of two PET bottles for every can or bottle of Lo Bros sold!
Is there plastic in your cans?
Every aluminium can contains a small lining of food grade plastic to prevent corrosion of the aluminium. During the recycling process the aluminium is re-melted for future use. This process burns the ink on the outside of the can as well as the plastic liner leaving pure aluminium ready for use.