Plastic has recently received a lot of bad press. From graphic images of agonising sea life, to students strikes for the environment, the long term consequences of plastic overload is increasingly a hot topic for sustainability.

This got us thinking: our airless packaging is made of high grade recyclable plastic and is produced in Korea. What are the pros and cons of plastic? Would it make sense to switch to an alternative material?

What’s the fuss about plastic?

Creating a plastic bottle requires less time and energy to produce than a glass or aluminium one. Moreover, it is also a lighter material, which does not break during transportation. So, if you only take into account production and transportation, plastic actually has a lower carbon footprint than any other materials.

The main issue: plastics can only be recycled a limited number of times and loses its quality at each cycle

Plastics can be melted, moulded, re-melted, remoulded, many times. However plastic degrades in quality at every recycling cycle. When you recycle a plastic bottle, it is not ‘recycled’ to make another bottle but ‘downcycled’ to make synthetic clothing or carpets. The properties that make plastic durable and desirable deplete with each recycling and reprocessing round. Ultimately, plastic is currently not biodegradable, so the question of end of life pollution remains.

What about Singapore?

While plastics can be recycled, very little of it actually is, due to sorting challenges (more on that in another post). In best-in-class countries, up to 50% of PET plastic would be recycled. In Singapore, it is estimated that as low as 4% of plastic is actually being recycled. The remaining plastic waste is piling up into landfills, or in the ocean, where it biodegrades into highly damaging microplastics. These tiny substances can disrupt ecosystems and infiltrate food chains with consequences we are just starting to understand…

In contrast, wood, paper and glass are fully biodegradable (on a short- or long-term period) when plastic is not, meaning they have a lesser impact on the environment in the disposal phase.

So how can alche{me} play its part?

#1: Increasing the proportion of plastic that gets recycled, one skincare bottle at a time

Most of us don’t know how to properly recycle our skincare plastic bottles (a part from putting them in the blue bin – which leads to 96% of it going to landfills).

So…  we are sorting and collecting your clean skincare plastic bottles, and bringing them directly to the triage center for proper handling. Come over with your clean and empty bottles on the following date:

– Green is the New Black: 02-03/11

– Boutiques: 15/11-17/11

– And across town in December (locations and dates to be announced)

We will also share more tips on plastic recycling in the next posts.

#2: Sourcing for gifts which are beautiful but also made with natural materials(cotton tote, cotton pouch, bamboo box, etc.)

#3: Wherever we can, we are switching to glass and wood packaging!

This very exciting bit of news comes with the fact that we are almost ready to reveal our new, more eco-friendly packaging. Watch this space, it is happening very soon!