Against numerous challenges, the social entrepreneurs that stood firm on their beliefs doing their part to help address the plastic waste issue have managed to disrupt the current unsustainable, convenience-focused delivery systems with their innovative solutions. 

The number of Zero Waste stores has grown quickly since they started mushrooming not too long ago. And while their rapid growth is nothing short of amazing, the reality is that the plastic waste crisis is rooted in the over-extraction of big fossil fuel companies and a handful of multinational corporations that continually peddle the myth of convenience and the culture of hyper-consumerism all over the globe. If we are to make a dent, we must also sustain and support the innovations these community Zero waste stores have introduced, and extend the principles of decentralization, fair labor practices, and resource conservation of these enterprises into the foundation of our communities’ better normal. 

The prerequisite for this alternative system to happen is a supportive environment. Public governments are key to making the sustainable alternative to thrive. Below, we list some steps that governments can take to support Zero Waste businesses.

  1. Tackle the offending corporations once and for all. Governments should: (a) implement extended producer responsibility and require manufacturers to be responsible for the whole life cycle of their product,(b) require corporations to fully disclose the amount of plastic used in manufacturing, shipping, retailing, and disposal streams. Corporations cannot remain hush about their actual plastic footprint. Public disclosure allows for effective monitoring, including the establishment of baseline data—disaggregated by type of plastic—against which to measure progress.
  2. Issue guidelines for environmentally friendly packaging. 
  3. Provide strict guidelines on single-use plastics (SUPs) where single-use bags, cutleries, food containers are banned including non-essential use outside of medical facilities.
  4. Set aside investment for alternative materials to plastic where there are currently no alternatives.
  5. Provide incentives for businesses that follow Zero Waste principles such as refilling stations and Zero Waste stores.
  6. Provide incentives to community-driven livelihood projects and businesses.
  7. Ban single-use bags and provide incentives for businesses transitioning to plastic-free.
  8. Provide incentives that promote local production and manufacturing of essential goods.

______________________

This article is part of the book, BUSINESS UNUSUAL: Enterprises paving the way to Zero Waste, a collection of feature articles on select enterprises in Asia Pacific that practice and promote Zero Waste principles. Published by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the publication may be downloaded for free at www.no-burn.org/Business-Unusual.