With a tenfold increase in plastic waste pollution in the oceans since 19801 and the annual flow of plastic into the ocean estimated to triple by 2040, immediate action is needed to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. While plastic-free solutions are increasingly demanded by consumers and regulators, options are still limited which is hindering global change across all industries.
However, small steps can have immediate and scalable impact. This is one of the key learnings of the ongoing journey towards plastic-free packaging by GROHE, a global brand for bathroom solutions and kitchen fittings.
In 2018, GROHE set itself the aim of removing all plastic from its packaging as one of the three core pillars of its Less Plastic Initiative. However, the team involved in this task realised that this complete shift could not be implemented with the packaging options currently available. Factors such as the set-up of current recycling systems and the lack of plastic-free solutions, especially for delicate product surfaces, still pose a huge challenge not only to the GROHE but to all industries. However, with a dedication to continue this initiative, GROHE is now saving 37 million plastic items per year due to the elimination of all unnecessary plastic in its product packaging. This equals the average plastic packaging waste generated by more than 4,300 EU citizens over the course of one year.
Jonas Brennwald, leader LIXIL EMENA, said: “While a complete switch to plastic-free packaging has not been possible yet, we will continue to constantly reflect, challenge, and re-evaluate the status quo of our solutions.”
“To drive a plastic-free future forward, we’ll focus on taking action. A crucial part of this is encouraging innovation applicable for the mass market in the packaging sector and inviting partners to work with us together to create new opportunities.”
Peter Brendecke, leader quality and EHS fittings, LIXIL International, added: “Achieving reduced-plastic packaging could only be reached by a multidimensional approach, including new innovations and small modifications – quite literally thinking outside of the box. For example, our project teams in the plants used novel solutions such as moulded pulp inserts instead of expanding polystyrene or wrapping film solution. Moreover, some simple yet impactful changes were developed. A product part of the GROHE Rapid installation system is now used to stow other loose pieces. This small modification has resulted in a big impact, saving 26 tons of polybags per year. I am very proud of the creative ambition with which my colleagues have approached the issue in order to bring about change.”