It was recently revealed that Coca-Cola produces three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, which is equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute according to the Guardian. This revelation was part of a global commitment led by the New Plastics Economy to raise awareness of the sheer scale of single-use waste we are creating.
After decades of relentless production of materials that end up in landfills, humans are beginning to take notice of our waste problem. This spans from large corporations to individuals in their homes. In 2017, the recycling rate for U.K. households was 45.7 percent. There is an EU target for the U.K. to recycle at least 50 percent of household waste by 2020. When I was a child, there was no recycling collection at all.
We’re seeing the connection between the physical products that we create and their detrimental effect on the environment.
Increasing numbers of consumers are applying environmental and ethical scrutiny to all physical products they buy. Doing good for the planet is not only expected of a brand; it can be a major selling point. Patagonia blazed a trail in the clothing industry for acting in the best interest of the environment, even if it means paying a premium for its products — compare the cost of one of its organic t-shirts at £29 ($38) versus a £2 ($2.61) t-shirt from Primark. Heaven only knows what sins are committed to get the price so low.
More than ever, we’re seeing the connection between the physical products we create and their detrimental effect on the environment. However, we need to look deeper at what else we buy. We consume many invisible products of an unknown provenance, and I am part of an industry that creates them.
The invisible product
I work in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, which means we deliver software via the internet. Customers subscribe to our product and then access it via their web browser. This means no physical items are manufactured or exchanged, which, superficially, could be used as an…