Plastic, and its environmental impact, is in the headlines like never before.  At Giki we have found the more you look at our everyday products, the more and more plastic there is, and what can we, as consumers, do to encourage less plastic, no plastic, or ‘better’ plastic?

We decided to use our database to start our research where we have information on over 265,000 products available to consumers.

Firstly we searched for packaging which can be recycled – this is good, if not great, behaviour.  Our database already identifies packaging which can be recycled by looking at recycling information and the type of pack. This is possible due to the great work of and WRAP who, for over a decade, have been working to create awareness and encourage consumers to change.

We found that about 40% of products in food and drink are clearly recyclable so a start would be to only buy these products and make sure you recycle them at the end of the week. This is the Giki badge to look out for.

But we all know that recycling our packaging isn’t enough not least because, from the New Year, China no longer wants us sending all our recycling to them.

Don’t we need to re-use this plastic or encourage companies to provide packaging made from recycled drinks bottles and food packets?  We searched our database again, to see if this was already happening, looking for products which had been made from “post consumer recycled plastic’. However, only 190 products were identified, not even 0.1%.  For all the great work on ‘can be recycled’, there is very little information on using recycled packaging again, and certainly no industry standard and certification.

In those 190 products we mostly found recycled kitchen and toilet roll, bin bags and brands such as Ecover, Method, Neals Yard Remedies, Innocent and Garnier.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but can you find more? If you manage to please share your photos @gikibadges

Now that we’ve completed our research, what can we as consumers do?  If there’s currently no information on the type of plastic used, then we will just keep using plastic.  However, reading the label, using Giki’s app and supporting those companies who are using recycled plastics are all good first steps. We cannot avoid plastic, and it has an important role to play in reducing food waste, but we can reduce, recycle and reuse.

Until more products made from recycled materials are ready we should also keep up demand for better plastic.  If you want to find out more the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a plastic free aisle are great initiatives to look at.