The pandemic came at a time when momentum was building for a shift away from plastic, with many consumers demanding alternatives or halting use of products (plastic straws) altogether. Although about 72 percent of Americans say they actively try to limit their plastic use, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, the amount of plastic waste per person has remained constant: about 4 ounces per person every day, for a total of about 15.6 million tons in 2017.
But to those who are working on alternatives to single-use plastic, the consumer momentum is not disappearing. In fact, founders of several plastic-alternative companies said that they had seen even more interest from consumers in their products, and a renewed commitment from some of the larger companies they work with to press on.
“We’re fortunate enough that we aren’t seeing anyone say, ‘I’m not worried about sustainability, I’m just going to focus on survival right now,’” said Troy Swope, co-founder and chief executive of Footprint, which produces fiber-based alternatives to single-use plastics (cardboard, essentially). “If anything, we’ve seen an acceleration,” he added, since companies often see a boost from using sustainable packaging.
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Footprint has a clear vision: eliminate single-use and short-term use plastics. Footprint designs, develops and manufactures technologies that are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. We make it easy for companies to switch out of plastic to preserve our future. We love our oceans and our planet, that's why we are revolutionizing industries to eliminate plastic pollution. The company was founded by former Intel engineers Troy Swope and Yoke Chung and employs more than 1,200 people. In 2019, Footprint was announced a winner of the prestigious NextGen Cup Challenge for its Plant-based alternative manufacturing process for making cups and lids. It has already helped eliminate over 60 million pounds of plastic. The company is based in Gilbert, Ariz. For more information and a complete portfolio of Footprint solutions visit www.footprintus.com.