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Marketing 101 | Is Paper the New Plastic?

The industry is sensing a "paper movement", replacing wasteful plastic with sustainable, recyclable paper materials.

A few years ago I went to San Francisco to visit a friend who had moved out of state. While we were souvenir shopping the cashier informed me that if I wanted a bag, there would be an extra charge - what became known as the "bag tax". California has been serious about addressing the amount of plastic waste produced - banning single-use plastic bags all together and now new legislation is banning plastic straws from restaurants.

It might sound silly, but according to a San Diego Tribune article from April, the 2017 Coastal Clean Up Day saw a 72% decrease in plastic bag litter compared to 2010. Data like this is why other cities like New York City and Seattle are proposing similar measures. Despite the resistance from voters, companies are paying attention. Kroger recently announced that it would phase all plastic bags out of stores by 2025. Starbucks and McDonald's have also launched initiatives to reduce plastic waste from their restaurants.

The alternative solution? Paper.

Reusable fabric grocery bags are great for a multitude of reasons, but for single-use products like disposable cutlery, straws and packaging, paper is the ideal alternative to plastic. As Two Sides North America puts it,

"There is a movement to get away from the ‘one-and-done’ model of the linear economy, toward a more “circular economy,” where the reuse, refurbishment, recycling, and end-of-life disposal of a product factors into the manufacturing design. ... Paper is a natural fit for the circular economy model."
  • Paper is sustainable. The paper industry is not the tree-killing villain it is often made out to be. Paper companies use sustainable forest management to make sure that more trees are grown than are harvested for paper manufacturing.
  • Paper is recyclable. More paper is recycled than any other material. Wood and paper products can be recycled for packaging and other materials like corrugated cardboard and tissues.
  • Paper uses renewable energy. Compared to other industrial sectors, paper manufacturers are using more self-sustained and renewable energy sources, creating a great deal less industrial and energy waste.
What other areas or industries do you think paper could improve? How do you use sustainable products in your own business?

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