A Plastic Planet – Successful Campaigns are Businesses

3 minutes read

With the rise of climate conscience and green awareness the world is also witnessing an increase in the individuals’ and companies’ attention towards more sustainable businesses and lifestyles.

This might sound amazing for who has seen this trend with his eyes in these past decades: the necessity to shift to a more sustainable economy has penetrated the minds of consumers and being a green company now seems to provide a competitive advantage! Wow!

Well, yes, sure, this is great! But the key here lies in a small detail: “being a green company also represents a competitive advantage”. It might sound a bit cynical, but it’s not that all of a sudden people realised what we are doing to our mother planet. Rather, companies are run and managed by profit motives.

Fortunately though, this is also something climate campaigners seem to know and, even better, are learning to take advantage of.

Green and raising-awareness campaigns are not anymore merely the dreams of a few scattered groups of passionate people. They transformed in actual enterprises, with organisational schemes and departments dealing with communication, strategy, growth, lobbying, and much more. 

That’s what struck me during my researches. In particular, it is A Plastic Planet, that caught my undivided attention.

A Plastic Planet is a January 2017 campaign which grew to become one of the most influential campaigns in the UK and has one simple premise: “Ignite and inspire the world to turn off the plastic tap.” How do they do that? First off, rather than using hate, blame, or pointing fingers, they focus on collaboration.

Climate change-related issues are not alien to the rhetoric of anger and hate. Quite the contrary, blaming former generations, multinationals, or governments and, generally, instigate panic and alarm has become quite common. A Plastic Planet, instead, behaves like a company itself, with certain, precise goals and observing the matter from a rational point of view. 

Their goals are very well summarised in ten brief points, mainly revolving around the power of simple speeches and the ineffective recycling mechanisms we have today.

Indeed, A Plastic Planet argues that although we believe we are doing much to dispose of plastic, we are actually not meeting the necessary recycling rates humankind needs to work off all the plastic it is using daily. 

According to them, in 2018, only 9% of all plastic was actually recycled in the UK, which is not even the bare minimum of what we should reuse. The US, a highly polluting country, did even less, recycling only 5% of its plastic consumption.

This although circularity is not all about recycling: to achieve an actual circular economy we should close the loop we broke  with the industrial revolution and return to a stage where what we consumed did not have any waste, but was completely reusable or biodegradable.

Nonetheless, educational tips apart, what makes A Plastic Planet a successful campaign is their specific set of goals: raising the awareness on their own existence and performance, lobbying governments the same way as the carbon fossil industry does, and working not on the niche brands, but rather on the big corporations to implement scalable, global solutions that can have a significant positive impact. 

#OnePlasticFreeDay, Lobbying for News Laws on Plastic Waste Exports, Tax Plastic, The Plastic Free Aisle, are all examples of campaigns A Plastic Planet has already put forward to reach its goals, which could raise not only awareness towards climate change, but towards the enterprise itself, which in turn results in more lobbying power to reach its overall objectives.

There lies the strength of A Plastic Planet: its potential to invest on its own power to grow and make a true company-like impact, rather than manifesting on the streets for the sake of it or inciting panic speeches hoping that someone would fall for it.

Campaigns need organisation and management, but not only in their structures. They need to become businesses and fight their competitors as companies would do: becoming more appealing to the consumers. Because, yes, we are not only talking about people. We are talking about consumers that actively choose and decide what products they prefer and what is more affordable (not sustainable!) and suited for their needs.

This is the power a campaign should put forward. A Plastic Planet is carrying out. More should follow.