Burt's Bees launches game-changing initiative

To celebrate World Ocean Day, Burt’s Bees and rePurpose Global are partnering up to help tackle plastic waste pollution in the marine ecosystem.

According to WWD, the companies will launch an Ocean Plastic Prevention Initiative. This three-year collaboration will fund recycling infrastructure in Accra, Ghana, and the Malappuram district of Kerala, India.

The new approach will not only eliminate 6.8 million kilograms of waste bound for the ocean, but it also aims to enhance the working conditions of local waste workers (many of whom are female, according to the brand).

“We wanted to be led by the need on the ground, and by the work that was being done by the women waste workers already in place,” said Burt’s Bees associate director of sustainability, Matt Kopac. “We wanted to follow the lead of local organisations and see how they were tailoring their approach.” 

There are many outstanding issues affecting Kerala when it comes to waste collection, said Kopac, which is why the companies have introduced a model that allows recycling facility upgrades and supporting door-to-door household waste collection impacting around 2,000 households.

“In Kerala, the most common form of waste is plastic film,” said Kerala. “There’s really no market for it; the economics don’t work for local collectors to be able to make a living from collecting it.” 

To help combat this, Burt’s Bees and rePurpose Global are allocating additional resources into the recovery and recycling of plastic film through a refashioned collection model. This will ensure the pursuit is more beneficial for not only local collectors, but for everyone in the region.

And because there is already is a substantial market for plastic film in Accra, the companies funneled resources partly into the repurposing of polyethylene terephthalate – recyclable plastic used in the production of soda and water bottles, which composes a considerable amount of plastic waste. By investing in this kind of recycling, the program will be able to reduce waste flow into the rivers of Accra.

“There are just plastic bottles clogging up this entire river,” said rePurpose Global CEO, Svanika Balasubramanian. “Then, the river can’t support much life, which also creates problems for fishermen who depend on it for their livelihoods.”

Collectively, the program is expected to improve working conditions for 350 waste collectors across both regions. This will in turn create more reliable income streams for those in the industry.

Repurpose Global is dedicated to reducing plastic through tailored approaches. It has teamed up with hundreds of other companies across various industries since its inception in 2016. The partnership with Burt’s Bees also links up with Burt’s Bees commitment to achieving net-zero plastic to nature by 2025, as well as its target of 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2030.

Image source: WWD