The Body Shop cares about protecting the environment, people, and critters as much as it does about creating quality products that pamper skin and hair. The Body Shop's Community Trade recycled plastic program aims to help fix the global plastics problem, which affects people and the planet in ways you have never thought about. And no, that's not a Mean Girls reference, either. This is serious.
The beloved mall brand has partnered with Plastics for Change, which enables global manufacturers to source high-quality recycled plastic from responsible supply chains. Together, they are calling attention to the little-seen human side of the plastic pollution crisis and buying 250 tons of recycled plastic to use in shampoo bottles. The Body Shop, which also works to eradicate animal testing, will further use its sphere of influence to promote social change and empower people.
According to the press materials received by Bustle, our planet is literally drowning in plastic. The numbers might alarm you — and they should. More than eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, with 90% of that plastic coming from 10 rivers in Asia. Additionally, 91% of plastic is not recycled on the global level. If we continue to pollute at such a rapid rate, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outnumber that of fish by 2050. Yikes!
Additionally, over three billion people live without any formal waste management system in place. Therefore, an informal waste picking work force has developed in order to deal with all that the trash.
There are approximately 15 million people in low-income countries currently working as waste pickers. Many are women living below the poverty line and working sub-standard conditions. The Body Shop states that India alone has 1.5 million waste pickers who collect and sort over 6,000 tons of plastic daily. These waste pickers are often viewed as outcasts. Many are known as "Dalits" or "untouchables," despite the fact that their work is critically important in battling the vicious cycle of waste on a global scale.
In addition to the limited rights, various health issues, and the societal marginalization waste pickers must contend with, it's physically taxing activity.
Now that you've seen the scope of the problem for the planet and the people, what's The Body Shop's solution?
Through the world's first-ever verified Fair Trade plastic collection recycling program, The Body Shop is buying 250 tons of Community Trade recycled plastic in the program's first year. That number is expected to double to 500 tons in 2020. By the end of 2021, the brand aims to purchase over 900 tons of Community Trade recycled plastic.
The brand has already started using Community Trade recycled plastic in bottles of the best-selling Ginger Shampoo. The bottles contain 100% recycled plastic, excluding the caps, with 15% of the plastic being Community Trade recycled plastic. The Community Trade recycled plastic will be used in nearly three million hair care bottles by the end of 2019.
The Body Shop and Plastics for Change are partnering with Hasiru Dala, an organization fighting for waste picker rights, and Hasiru Dala Innovations, which creates employment opportunities for waste pickers, to support up to 2,500 of these workers from Bengaluru, India over the course of three years. The workers will receive a fair wage, predictable income, and improved conditions. The program will also offer these workers access to education, financial loans, and health care services, in addition to respect and recognition.
This program is an innovative way to approach waste. Rather than ignore the problem and the people who literally get their hands dirty while combating it hands on, The Body Shop's initiative wants plastic recycling to transform lives.