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Why reusable plastic’s future is ours to control.

Attached is a picture of Mikey Ciancio, one time typical schoolboy, now a successful professional drummer.  The amalgamated picture shows how good habits learned when young, should last a lifetime.

Here's a young man schooled and now well versed in best hydration practises and responsible packaging re-use. In his hands however, Mikey holds a conundrum and one unlikely to disappear anytime soon. A plastic reusable bottle and one of ours too, of course

The conundrum is this. How can a packaging company such as us at NDA Packaging Services, dedicated to reusability and the elimination of single use plastic waste, justify the continued supply of refillable plastic bottles?

After all, we have campaigned since Mikey was a child against the environmental damage created by disposable plastic. We’ve based our business on reusability, made a thousand PowerPoint presentations on the subject. We even addressed the Institute of Water’s National Conference in 2011, highlighting the environmental madness of bottled water, set against UK tap water quality, which is among the world’s best.

Looking back it seems we were so far ahead of the curve we should have dropped off the edge.   

Today barely a day passes without a press release highlighting the landfill dilemma, litter and marine disaster that has unfolded. A government once deaf to the missive, now agrees on the necessity on a tax for single use bottles and are proposing bottle return schemes and improved public drinking water access to help enforce the change.  Even a sugar tax!

Inevitably though, some campaigners are progressing the argument to its extreme by proposing that organisations such as Parliament and even our schools ban plastics altogether. On this latter proposal however, we strongly disagree.

Let’s first make one thing clear. If a more viable reusable bottle than the ones we currently supply could better meet the needs of our markets and objectives, especially in schools, then as market leaders we would be both proposing and offering it.    

Our schools policy over nearly two decades has been built on two platforms. The first is the importance of good and regular hydration and water’s role as the healthiest alternative. Secondly the environmental and social importance of retaining your drinking bottle, maintaining and reusing it responsibly.

Whilst this second set of objectives technically can be met with any form of renewable vessel, the first and equally important hydration objective can’t. For nearly all schools, our bottles appeal because of their reusability AND affordability. Offering an alternative ‘up-market’ reusable solution (whilst probably more profitable for us) would put the reordering of refillable water bottles beyond ever-tightening school budgets.

The enforced consequence would be schools abandoning their current duty of hydration care and all the progress this has entailed. The unravelling would be a reversion to school litter bins re-populated by the disposable alternative.

The issue isn’t plastic, which won’t simply disappear overnight and will continue to play some useful role in our lives from car parts to windows. The challenge is the management of that material, ensuring it is used where needed, reused where possible and recycled when finally disposed.

So we take great pride that Blue Planet’s receptive audience includes a generation of schoolchildren such as Mikey, who as young adults are now familiar and responsive to the issues. Reusable plastic bottles have played a vital role in aiding this transition and until a feasible alternative presents itself will continue to do so, responsibly managed.

So meantime we’ll continue to beat the drum, even if not half as well as young musician Mikey now does.

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