Procter & Gamble says its consumers “care deeply” about the environment and, with that in mind, has launched its new Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle made 10% ocean plastic, collected from the ocean and beaches around the world, and 90% post-consumer recycled plastic.
The UK launch will include 320,000 ocean plastic bottles for the Fairy dishwashing brand, and P&G says it intends to extend the initiative across more regions and other brands – like Dawn, Yes, Dreft and Joy – in the future. The Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle was created in partnership with recycling expert TerraCycle.
P&G touts the move as a means of raising awareness about the issue of ocean plastic and “stemming the flow of plastic into the ocean,” but companies like P&G are also increasingly aware of the need to find new sources of recyclable materials if they want to continue moving toward a more circular economy. Sourcing recycled plastic saves CO2 emissions and also consumes less energy in comparison with extracting new plastic polymers from the earth, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition wrote last spring (via Packaging Digest). In terms of economic value, 95% of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy, per the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Seeking a Circular Economy with Ocean Plastic
CPGs and apparel companies are developing a variety of initiatives to source recovered ocean plastic for packaging but face some challenges. Ocean plastic comes at a higher expense than other sources because of the complex supply chain involved in collection and processing. TerraCycle is attempting to combat that problem with a beach plastic cleanup program, currently in pilot phase. The program has existing beach cleanup organizations partnering with TerraCycle to send in the plastics they collect.
Another challenge is that ocean plastics also tend to turn a dark gray when processed – and then require further processing by the manufacturer to make the color more uniform. Still, companies like P&G that chase the ideal of a “circular economy” are continually exploring new sources of recycled plastic.
Method, People Against Dirty, was one of the first to use ocean plastics in soap bottles back in 2012. Apparel manufacturers like Adidas and Timberland have experimented with ocean plastics in clothing. And this is not P&G’s first ocean plastic initiative. In fact, the company released a limited run of Head & Shoulders shampoo bottles in France over the summer.
Apparel companies and CPGs are not the only ones testing the waters of ocean plastic. In June, Dell began shipping its XPS 13 in materials made in part from plastic pollution from the ocean. The company said it spent about 18 months doing a detailed assessment and validation, followed by a pilot, based on using ocean plastic in a way that is cost-effective and commercially scalable.