A new social enterprise is aiming to help environmental charities and offer consumers environmentally-friendly alternatives as Australia’s National Plastics Plan unfolds.
Newly launched e-commerce site Spacewhite is offering product and packaging alternatives in an effort to lower the use of plastics, the annual Australian consumption of which has increased by over 240,000 tonnes over the last four years alone. Troublingly, the amount recycled in that same time period dropped by 1.4 per cent.
Spacewhite has a range of plastic-free household products, such as plastic wrap-free bamboo toilet paper (which has been produced in recycled water) and biodegradable, plant-based laundry detergent that comes in sheet form as opposed to powder.
Alice Allen, a Spacewhite spokesperson, says that a massive 130,000 tonnes of plastic ends up in Australia’s waterways and the ocean every year, with 95 per cent of plastic packaging in the household discarded after a single use.
“Most of the household products we take home from our weekly grocery shop are wrapped in single plastics,” Allen says.
“Sadly, only a small proportion of this plastic will be recycled and much of it ends up in our oceans where it will break down into microplastics – a process which has far-reaching impacts on our environment and marine ecology.
“We wanted to offer consumers an alternative model which provides them with access to common household products but without the plastic packaging.”
For the first five years, all profits from Spacewhite will go to Melbourne-based Plastic Oceans Australasia, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to change negative behaviour and practices relating to plastic use through education, science and sustainability avenues.
Spacewhite CEO Ringo Chan will also be foregoing a salary during the first five years, after which the doors will be opened to investors.
So far, so good. Allen said that over 20,000 Australian households have already purchased products from Spacewhite since launching in 2020.
Australia’s increasing focus
There is increased pressure on companies to reduce the amount of plastic being used. In February, the Andrews Labor Government announced the state of Victoria was the first in Australia to embark on a phase out and ban plan of specific single-use plastics by 2023, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks.
In March, Queensland passed similar laws putting an end to single-use plastics including straws and cutlery from September 1st.
“Plastic pollution is spoiling our streets and parks, escaping into our ocean and waterways and killing our iconic wildlife,” Queensland’s Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said at the time.
“Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away and that litter is destroying our environment.”