The Plastic Dilemma

The Plastic Dilemma in Retail

The initiatives addressing single use plastic in retail are well documented globally.  Plastic bags, hangers and other plastic packaging contribute significantly to more than 300 million tonnes of plastic waste created around the globe annually.  How are retail and brands responding?  Groups like Beyond the Bag have been formed to evaluate how to reduce the use of plastic bags in retail and lessen the impact of the environment. Companies like Target are embracing Plastic-Free July to help reduce the use single-use plastic products.

What is not being widely discussed in the retail community is the plastic hanger. Designer Roland Mouret calls the plastic hanger the “plastic straw of retail.”  Research into retail hangers revealed that a mind blowing 85% or 15.5 billion plastic hangers end their life in landfi­lls every year.*  These hangers can take over a thousand years to decompose in landfills and massively pollute our rivers and oceans.

At ditto hanging solutions we recognized this issue more than 15 years ago and started designing products that could provide the benefits that plastic hangers have (strength and style), but avoid the dependency of fossil fuels that plastic has while insuring a closed loop lifecycle.  Working closely with retailers, we arrived at the concept of using FSC paper to reimagine hangers for apparel, footwear and accessories.  Since that time we have designed and developed thousands of paper hanging solutions that are reusable, recyclable and meet the demands of the retail supply chain.

 

Why choose paper?

– Ditto hanging solutions utilizes recycled paper from the responsible forestry of trees.  It is a natural, renewable, and sustainable source of materials.  Plastic is dependent on fossil fuels which is a limited, controversial resource.

– Paper itself is one of the most recyclable materials available in the world today.  Paper can be recycled up to 7 times without any additives, whereas plastic immediately requires virgin material and/or stabilizers in order to be repurposed up to 3 times.

– Paper is truly the only closed loop solution – you can recycle ditto hangers into more ditto hangers. Plastic does not inherently break down, as it releases toxic chemicals and degrades into micro plastics.

– All products eventually end up in a land­fill, paper is the best thing to put there. What we can’t capture ends up in our ocean and rivers.  Paper naturally biodegrades and will break down within 7 weeks. Plastic will breakdown into micro plastics over thousands of years.

– Federal governments of every country are closing in on the use of plastics.  Plastic options will become limited and more expensive. This is already happening in the EU and Canada as governments mandate plastic free regulations.

 

The tipping point has arrived

In Europe and Canada, federal governments are imposing taxes on single-use plastics.  It would make sense to assume that the United States in not far behind.  As important, consumers are not going to maintain loyalty to retailers who continue to contribute to the long-term impairment of the environment.  We are at the tipping point for replacing plastic with paper products.

The acquisition of ditto by nexgen was the culmination of a joint vision to bring sustainable, paper hangers to the retail industry that needs to find real solutions to environmental issues.  We don’t believe any retailer wants to continue purchasing plastic hangers that will ultimately always end up in a landfill and take one-thousand years to decompose.  We know that even the paper, recyclable products we design and produce will end up in a landfill.  The difference is that our paper hangers take 7 weeks to decompose and leave no legacy trace.

The time to change our use of plastic in retail is here.  Please contact a representative at nexgen packaging to learn more about ditto hanging solutions at [email protected]