Single Use Plastics: Searching the Alternatives

In 2022, if one seeks out trends in the plastics world, then talk about “single use plastics” surely scores high. This trend began some years ago and kept building. Just the same, 2022 stands as a high water mark for this topic.

The impetus for all this talk? The push, exerted by the environmental movement, to reduce plastics waste around the globe. Their foremost objective? To find alternatives to “single use plastics.” Environmental activists urge a switch to (1) biodegradable plastics alternatives, (2) non-plastic options, or (3) plastics products designed for re-use or recycling, not the trash heap.

Possible remedies number many, and even the plastics distributors themselves meet the challenge with new offerings. Companies such as this one—Lone Star Chemical—market a range of solutions.

Our series on “Plastics: What Lies Ahead?” examines the changes wrought by the market’s increasing aversion to single-use plastic products.

We also share a roundup of eye-opening directions, departures, and developments in the world of plastics, polymers, resins, and their like.

But understanding the trend begins with understanding public sentiment.

Sizing Up Single Use Plastics

Early in 2022, Deloitte Global surveyed individuals in the Gen Z and the Millennial generations. Deloitte wanted to assess their concerns about the state of the world. Deloitte reports that this population sector worries about the cost of living, climate change, wealth inequality, geopolitical conflicts, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, this sector shows determination to drive positive societal change. However, they struggle with daily life challenges. Challenges such as financial anxiety, lack of work/life balance, and consistently high stress levels.

“This year’s report shows that many Gen Zs and Millennials… reassessed what matters most to them. This has led to a workplace reckoning. It empowered many to demand sustained changes, including… more action to address climate change,” said Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer.

Generational Shift

Nine in 10 respondents currently make an effort to protect the environment—primarily focused on everyday actions. Such actions include using second-hand and recyclable items or sourcing local and organic food.

Few respondents believe that businesses and governments do enough to combat climate change. As a result, Gen Zs and Millennials advocate for greater action. They put pressure on their employers to invest in visible, everyday environmental actions.

Actions where the employee can find direct involvement. A ban on single-use plastics stood as the No. 1 recommendation. Next came sustainability-oriented benefits and training—ultimately empowering employees to make greener choices in their everyday lives.

For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, visit:

What’s SUP?

Recently, reported that Canada unveiled a ban on single use plastics (SUPs). The financial news site stated that Canada’s comprehensive plan to reduce them extends to specific products. These include most plastic bags, disposable cutlery, and plastic straws, as well as stir sticks, cups, and six-pack rings that hold cans together. Some exceptions exist for medical needs and accessibility reasons, or other recognized specific cases.

Businesses that heavily rely on the material need to come up with new solutions. For instance, the restaurant sector, where plastic takeout containers, cutlery, and bags comprise the norm. Many problems plague the global supply chains since the pandemic. So tracking down plastic alternatives and procuring them becomes a daunting task. Especially for industries where margins remain thin.

Other countries that put in place various bans on single-use plastics include Chile, the U.K., and the European Union. However, the United States ranks as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste. The United States generates about 287 pounds of plastics per person annually. Some states like New York and California put in piecemeal efforts, but the most action taken at the federal level simply increased the U.S. recycling rate to 50 percent by 2030.

Team Kōkua
Team Kōkua, Hawaiian Airlines’ employee volunteer group, at a clean-up event at Oʻahu’s Kaʻena Point State Park.

Single-Use Plastics Get Grounded?

Back in May, Hawaiian Airlines took the step of eliminating single-use plastics from cabins. In its Corporate Responsibility Report, the company cited its resolve to make the changeover by 2029.

Hawai’i’s hometown airline also reaffirmed its focus on sustainable tourism last fall. They provided tips on how Hawaiian’s guests can safely enjoy the islands while respecting communities, culture, and environment.

“We remain engaged with grassroots, industry, and political leaders,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram in the Corporate Report. The airline seeks to “shape a greener, more beneficial and equitable tourism economy.”

3M and Single Use Plastics

Meanwhile, some of the largest global corporations voice their enthusiasm for single-use alternatives.
3M launched its 3M Futures program, a new platform. Futures showcases five global science and technology trends shaping the world—and the future of tomorrow. The platform explores each topic alongside commentary from 3M experts, scientists, engineers, and designers. 
The 3M Futures topics for 2022 include Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR); Artificial Intelligence; Sustainable materials; Pandemic Awareness; and Equity through Science and Technology.

“Every day, 3M’ers around the world… unlock the next phase of what’s possible. And they explore the latest trends in science and technology,” says Kevin Gilboe, head of 3M Design, International.

Among the key Futures findings: 

Respondents feel single-use plastics pose a bigger threat to the environment than fossil fuels and fast fashion.
To download full 3M Futures survey data, including by country and infographic breakdowns, visit: 3M Futures Resource Center
3M is launching 3M Futures
3M is launching 3M Futures, a new platform showcasing five global science and technology trends shaping the world today and helping to reimagine what comes next. (Photo credit: 3M)

Fashion Finds Sustainability

Fashion is not exempt from the sustainables push. 
Fair Harbor - Founders - Jake and Caroline Danehy
“We started Fair Harbor with the mission to mitigate the use of single-use plastics…” Jake and Caroline Danehy, the founders of Fair Harbor.
In July 2022, Fair Harbor, the fastest-growing sustainable apparel brand in the United States, re-emphasized its founding mission: to mitigate the use of single-use plastics. And to push forward and honor its commitment to environmental, social, and governance factors.
The company makes all of its signature beachwear from recycled plastic bottles, organic cotton, and recycled nylon. Since its founding, Fair Harbor recycled more than 27 million plastic bottles, preventing waste from entering the ocean. Additionally, the company implements ethical manufacturing practices, using only WRAP-certified, socially responsible factories.
Fair Harbor also encourages its customers to recycle their bathing suits through its Round-Trip Initiative. As community members look through their drawer of old swimwear or finish using their bathing suits, they follow three steps. They fill out a form, pack it up with a prepaid label, and send it back. Fair Harbor then sends the beachwear to 2ReWear, who gives them a second life as insulation and material for rugs.
To learn more about Fair Harbor, visit

Single Use Plastics and Hospitality 

And hotels show they can get into the act as well.
Fairmount Pacific Rim, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based luxury hotel, has worked to reduce its single use plastics, making other innovations along the way as well.
In September, Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, Canada’s definitive luxury hotel, took a big step. Fairmont announced the elimination of non-essential single-use plastics from its guest journey. This includes its public spaces, guestrooms, dining venues, and spa. 
Since 2018, the company has been working on a comprehensive road-map towards the reduction of single-use plastics. The solution involves removing items entirely, identifying reusable alternatives, and/or introducing sustainable materials in their place. 
Recycle, Reuse, Rethink
Among Fairmont’s recent steps: 
Some 36,000 plastic key cards used annually… replaced by reusable FSC Certified cherry wood. 
Approximately 1,600 kilograms (198,700) of small bath amenity bottles used annually… replaced with large format refillable bottles.
Fully 600 kilograms of plastic water bottles consumed per year… removed from the guest experience and replaced with recyclable alternatives.
A total of 12,500 plastic laundry bags used per year… replaced with a re-usable cloth alternative. 
In-room amenities such as razors, toothbrushes, cotton buds, and shower caps… replaced with environmentally friendly versions.
All food and beverage take-away containers and cutlery… replaced with fiber-based solutions.

Single-Use Gets Doubly Emphasized

Phillips 66 saw a challenge to its management back in May when a shareholder resolution focused on the company’s plastics production.
The resolution received majority support (50.4 percent) from Phillips 66 shareholders. They request that Phillips 66 publish a report detailing how it could shift its plastic production business from virgin to recycled plastic polymers. In addition, assess its petrochemical assets under virgin-to-recycled transition scenarios of five and 10 years. Lastly, study the financial risks associated with such scenarios.
Phillips 66 jointly owns, with Chevron, the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem). CPChem ranks as the 15th largest global producer of virgin plastic resins bound for single-use applications. Plastic Waste Makers Index supplied the data.
In its 2020 sustainability report, CPChem declared a goal to end its plastic waste. CPChem announced a recycled plastic polymer production target. 

For Every Door That’s Closed…

Not every bit of sustainables news in the plastics world has to be something to give pause. Some news proves encouraging and forward-looking.
The researcher firm known as Research and Markets ( issued its “Global Plastics and Composites Market Outlook Report” earlier this year. The report cites investments in upscaling technologies for chemical recycling and decoupling petroleum feedstocks for plastics. While that prospect might not sound thrill distributors of petrochemical-based plastics, the prospects hold potential and hope.
The “Outlook” provided an overview of the industry. It highlights disruptive, transformational, and competitive trends expected to impact industry growth.

Single Use Plastics Draw Focus

The study identified the top eight predictions for 2022 and discusses the potential implications for each industry segment. Key growth opportunities, companies to watch out for, and strategic imperatives for success come up for discussion.
The year saw protracted disruption of the supply chain because of natural calamities, ensuing force majeure events. Energy shortages, container shortages, and freight challenges continued to drive upward pressure on resin prices in 2021. Overall consumption registered a recovery of 4.5 percent in 2021 (in terms of volume). The unprecedented rise in resin prices resulted in revenue registering a robust growth of 16.1 percent in 2021.

Sustainability and Single Use Plastics

Sustainability and circular economy stand as the most important issues in the plastic industry. The pandemic and the ensuing disruption served as short-term impediments to the shift away from single-use plastics. But 2022 will witness a resurgence in downward pressure as legislations, restrictions, taxes, and bans are introduced (or will take effect) across geographies. 

The key material types analyzed in the study include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Also examined: Polystyrene (PS), engineering plastics, high-performance plastics (HPPs), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethanes (PU), and so on.
The main end industries covered include automotive, building and construction, consumer goods and household. Plus electrical and electronics, medical, packaging, and others. The latter includes industries as sports and leisure, agriculture, footwear, wind turbine applications, and oil and gas pipelines).

Toward the Future

Stakeholders across the value chain and end industries increasingly ramp up their collaborations. These include development of circular material flows in the wake of both tightening regulations and growing customer demand. Chemical recycling remains a mainstream, effective means of achieving circularity. Higher customer demand and the ever-growing investment in supply augur well for commercialization and scaling up of bio-based, greener plastics.

While some mega trends propel growth, others challenge the status quo. Diversified industry majors continue scouting for measures to strategically enable the shift of focus. They seek higher margins and sustainable and less-cyclical businesses. 
These comprise just some of the trends, and no doubt 2023 holds potential for further shifts in the landscape. Follow Lone Star Chemical’s social media feeds for the latest in the plastics revolution and the sustainability push. (Find our social channels at the bottom of the page, where the icons appear.)

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