How can we prevent unnecessary plastic waste on World Refill Day?

16 June 2023 by Shaqeeb Hussain
blog author

​​The planet is under constant strain from the ever-increasing mountain of waste – the fallout of our throw-away society.

Today on World Refill Day, the global population is urged to address its approach to single-use plastic and stop exacerbating the problem, by turning to solutions that will lessen environmental damage.

The dedicated day is a global ‘City to Sea’ campaign, set out to remind us all to take action against plastic pollution and reduce waste by uniting partners and supporters worldwide to evoke change and eradicate our wasteful culture.

According to researchers, we create more than 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, half of which is single-use, while less than 10 percent of the plastic we use will ever been recycled.

With three in four people wanting greater access to reduce, reuse and refill options (according to One Poll which conducted a City to Sea survey in 2021), there has never been a more pressing time to create solutions for a more sustainable, circular culture.

How does plastic directly contribute to the climate crisis?

Not only is plastic polluting our land, sea and waterways, which is hazardous to wildlife, it is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

With so many plastic items destined for the ocean, where they slowly break down and release greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the process, UN studies show there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, in terms of weight.

According to the NGO MarineSafe, a single-use plastic water bottle will take an estimated 450 years or more to break down into microplastics. As it slowly breaks down, sunlight and heat cause the plastic to release methane and ethylene into the atmosphere. Transitioning to its microplastic form, it threatens smaller animals, hence there has never been a more vital time to reassess human activity and behavior.

According to research, around 10 million tonnes of pollution annually enters global waters, with approximately 80 per cent of it originating from land and about three quarters from plastic waste, resulting in the ocean’s marine microorganisms absorbing less carbon dioxide.

How can single-use plastic negatively affect us?We are extremely vulnerable to the effects of single-use plastic. More than 150 million tonnes of plastic pollution reaches our ocean and microplastics (measuring less than 5mm in size) are now present in the human body. This is seen in blood and breast milk samples as well as in the fish we eat and could negatively impact human health.

Nano particles (further fragmentation of microplastics, measuring less than 0.0001mm), carried by air currents, are now found as far as the North and South Poles, according to the World Economic Forum, which forecasts plastic pollution to triple by 2050.

How can World Refill Day change consumer behavior?

Now in its third year, World Refill Day aims to prevent more plastic from polluting our planet by raising awareness of how we can make small but impactful changes daily to promote a more sustainable and circular future.

Today, millions of people around the world - from business and brands, to activists and community groups - will be joining the mission to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic. The World Refill Day app provides a list of places to eat, drink and shop with less waste, detailing free water filling stations, plastic-free shopping (reduced packaging) and refill shops.

This supports the transition to reuse systems, by raising awareness and giving communities and businesses the knowledge and tools to create lasting change.

Why do we support World Refill Day?

There has never been a more urgent time for collective efforts worldwide to end the single-use plastic culture and focus on reuse and refill methods – but people still need educating on the best ways to achieve this.

As a B-Corp, we strive to ensure that the planet doesn’t suffer for our day-to-day operations. We support other businesses in reaching similar goals for long-term impact by providing the right talent to achieve their targets.

Acre’s purpose is to create systemic change for our planet and society by activating people’s potential. Our two decades of sustainability-focused executive search and recruitment means that, in our efforts to live this purpose, we’ve built an expansive global network of people united by one common purpose: to build a more sustainable future for generations to come.

This is why World Refill Day is an important date in our calendar, but it is a principle that should be adhered to 365 days a year, not just on June 16.

Shaqeeb Hussain, Senior Consultant – Sustainable Business at Acre UK, said: “As a Consultant in the cosmetics sector, it has been encouraging to see many companies adopting sustainable initiatives and product innovation as part of their sustainability journeys. One solution that is taking precedence in the fragrance sector is refillable perfume. This approach provides potential to significantly improve environmental impact, with the reduction being directly proportional to the number of times a bottle is re-used; using a bottle just twice reduces the impact threefold, avoids wasting raw materials and saves on energy consumption.

“In 2022, the sales of refillable fragrance increased by 30 percent compared to 2021, which shows that there is appetite in the market and that consumers are making more sustainable decisions, ready to adopt small changes in their lifestyle for the good of the planet.


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