Two companies with footprints along the Mississippi River, from Florida to the Dakotas, have pledged to reduce their plastic waste by 20% almost immediately – that is, by 2020 – as part of a multi-state effort to clean up the river. The companies, Heart of America Group and Dynamic Restaurant Holdings, have joined with state legislators and more than 30 mayors from the length of the Mississippi River on a push to reduce plastics pollution.
The Mississippi River provides billions of gallons of fresh water to industry each day, points out Mayor Rita Albrecht of Bemidji, MN, first city on the River. “…[W]hen up to 80% of the plastics in our oceans comes from land-based sources and the Mississippi River drains an expansive 31-state landscape, it becomes clear that possibly 40% of plastic pollution in the Gulf originates from the Mississippi River,” she says.
The multi-state commitment comes from the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a group of 85 mayors from the length of the river. The mayors and state legislators announced the commitment to strive toward a 20% reduction of plastic waste in the Mississippi River Valley by 2020 at MRCTI’s recent annual meeting.
The first step will be to form plastic waste reduction commissions in each state along the river that can work with cities to establish practices that target plastic waste. Companies like Dynamic Restaurant Holdings and Heart of America Group will work with team members and vendors to brainstorm ideas on reducing plastic waste.
“Until recently, we had been looking at reducing our carbon footprint and powering more of our facilities with renewable energy. Now, we are adding plastic waste to our obligations because our water resources are so important,” says Mike Whalen, President & CEO of Heart of America Group.
Plastic waste has been top-of-mind for many organizations this summer following World Environment Day and its “Beat Plastic Waste” theme. Companies like Infosys and Reckitt Benckiser Group used the event to announce their own pledges to reduce waste.
Reckitt Benckiser Group, manufacturer of brands like Lysol and Woolite, pledged to ensure that at least 25% of its packaging content is recycled plastic by 2025, where possible or allowed by regulators. By 2025, 100% of plastic packaging will also be recyclable or reusable, with “best-in-class labeling” to help consumers recycle effectively, the company said in June. With that in mind, it is investing in research into alternative materials that can replace its use.