less waste, better products, wiser decisions
creating low-impact products without compromising performance using post-consumer recycled plastic
Core to simplehuman is our commitment to building high-performance, low impact products. In the case of our iconic trash cans, we’ve been doing more with less for years.
Since 2015, we’ve been using recycled plastics in our trashcans. While simplehuman is still working to reduce our planetary impacts, we know that it is vital to take the steps we can, as soon as we can. This past year, we’ve avoided using 885 metric tons of virgin plastic by integrating Post-Consumer Recycled plastics, or PCR, into our products. Keeping this momentum going into 2021, we are continuing to increase the PCR content in simplehuman goods, starting with 4 of our top selling trashcans. We aim to switch an additional 1,250 metric tons of plastic from virgin to Post-Consumer Recycled, furthering our efforts to do more with less.
We use PCR plastics because they reduce the environmental footprint of our trashcans without compromising quality. In switching away from using virgin plastic, we are helping build a world where recycled plastic is a high-value material, incentivizing recycling here and abroad.
This is the story of one of the plastics used in our trashcans: recycled polypropylene.
Our recycled polypropylene starts as most plastic does – oil. Through refinement under heat, pressure, and with the aid of chemicals, that oil ultimately becomes polypropylene.
In the case of the polypropylene in our trash cans, it has a first life as the inner drum of a washing machine in Japan. Once the washing machine no longer works like it once did, it is entered into the recycling process and the polypropylene begins its transformation into simplehuman products.
Japan has implemented nationwide appliance buy-back programs1 that make quality recycled materials possible. Consumers pay a fee, and their now defunct appliances are disassembled, each component sorted for recycling and re-use. This mandatory legal and market-based framework creates a consistent supply of recycled materials for companies like us to purchase – 82% of washing machines and dryers are successfully recycled in Japan2.
During recycling, the washing machine’s inner drum and other polypropylene pieces are reprocessed back into polypropylene stock. This recycled plastic is then tested, confirming all of the key properties are similar to virgin polypropylene.
To ensure authenticity and quality, we only purchase verified PCR from our supplier in Japan. This recycled plastic and its measured environmental footprint have been verified by TUV Rheinland, a world leading auditor and certifier.
The certified recycled polypropylene is then shipped to our factory and utilized in our trashcans.
We rigorously test all of our products with PCR content to ensure they live up to our warranties and engineering standards, so year after year after year, our products excel. By using certified PCR, we are able to deliver the same durable products you expect, but with a smaller environmental impact. Our trashcans utilizing PCR are visually and functionally identical to older models that used virgin plastic; equally as strong, just as long-lasting.
By replacing virgin plastic used in simplehuman products, Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic helps us provide less resource-intensive options for buying home goods. We want to set an example, demonstrating that PCR plastic can be used to create low-impact products without performance compromises. simplehuman trashcans made with PCR plastic prove it isn’t either or – it can, and should, be both.