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Method Uses Ocean Debris to Make Soap Bottles

Environmentally-conscious cleaning product company Method is launching a two-in-one hand and dish soap that comes in bottles made from plastic recovered from the ocean, blended with post-consumer recycled plastic.

Scientists estimate that several million tons of plastic make their way into the oceans every year, polluting the environment and hurting marine life, Method says. Through this new use of recovered ocean plastic, Method says it is demonstrating how a business can tackle environmental problems while still aiming to turn a profit.

Over the past year and a half, Method employees have worked with volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to hand-collect several tons of plastic from the beaches of Hawaii, where the kinds of rigid, opaque plastic needed to make this packaging are most abundant. A portion of the product’s proceeds will go to these two Hawaiian organizations as part of Method’s efforts to establish an ongoing business model and supply chain for collecting and sorting plastic marine debris.

Method partnered with recycler Envision Plastics to develop a new recycling process to make the bottles. The process allows plastics recovered from the ocean to be cleaned, blended, and then remanufactured into high quality recycled plastic that is the same quality as virgin high-density polyethylene plastic, Method says.

The soap will be exclusively available at Whole Foods Market stores and at methodhome.com. It is available in two fragrances, sea minerals and sweet water, at the suggested retail price of $4.99.

In other package recycling news, the US recycling rate for polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, plastic containers held steady from 2010 to 2011 at just over 29 percent, according to a report by The National Association for PET Container Resources and The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers. Figures in the 2011 Report on Postconsumer PET Container Recycling Activity show that the total volume of postconsumer PET bottles collected was the highest measured to date at 1.6 billion pounds; the total amount of RPET produced by U.S. reclaimers was also at an all-time high of 667 million pounds.

Earlier this week, sportswear company Puma unveiled a range of products made of only recyclable or biodegradable products. The company’s InCycle track jacket is 98 percent comprised of recycled polyester deriving from used PET bottles.

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