PlasticFree headed to the Rethinking Materials summit in London last week, two days dedicated to innovation and investment in pioneering material solutions to our fossil-fuel addicted world.
The message was clear - we need to rethink our materials and how we treat them, and in doing so we must rethink our entire business model too.
Despite this rallying opening cry from Harriet Lamb, CEO of WRAP, what followed was a series of discussions on how hard it is to change the status quo. Luckily, a strong and persistent narrative from the material innovators in the room demonstrated that change is possible today, we just need to stop looking for reasons why it won’t work and truly embrace the possibilities of what next-gen solutions can offer, even if they look different to what we’re used to.
As ever, plastic was heralded as the bar we need to meet with the next wave of materials, and it’s here that a radical undoing of our collective bias clearly needs to happen. As Sonalie Figueiras, CEO and Founder of Source Green, put it, “The way we think about the industry and how we solve the problem is lacking. Why do we need 1:1 solutions for plastic? Where can we accept compromise? Plastic is held up as a benchmark when all its externalities aren’t factored into its costs.”
While there will always be reasons not to take action - lack of legislation, lack of data, lack of supposed consumer buy-in were all floated as barriers to change - the reality is we have to. At the end of the 48-hour summit, the consensus was that we have the tools to do so, now we need the drive.
Discover five key themes that emerged over the course of the event, giving insights into the challenges that lie ahead, as well as the sheer scale of possibility available to those willing to take it on.