Robots are getting in on the effort to curb our addiction to single-use plastics. A new partnership between one of the largest industrial robotics manufacturers and a compostable packaging company points the way to an efficient and cost-effective green packaging revolution. ABB Robotics has signed an agreement to collaborate with California-based Zume, which makes the compostable packaging that's becoming more commonplace as an alternative to plastics. ABB's robotic cells will help Zume speed up and scale production of 100% compostable packaging made from plant-based agricultural material. The stats on single-use plastic are grim.
A fleet of robots and some fancy sustainable material may point the way to solving a vexing problem: How to reduce harmful single-use packaging materials, which include not just plastics and polystyrene but also chemicals used to line cardboard packaging. This lineup of aerial hardware fits a variety of enterprise photography and video use cases. The company in question is Zume, and you might remember the name from its first life as a pizza-making robotics firm once valued in the billions. After trying to scale its end to end automated pizza business too quickly, the Softbank-backed brand pivoted went through major layoffs and then pivoted to sustainable packaging. With a breakthrough partnership with global robotics leader ABB, as well as a new partnership with Solenis, a leading global producer of speciality chemicals, Zume is launching a line of 100% PFAS-free compostable packaging for the food packaging industry, capping off a major brand reinvention.
We know that plastic waste is a big problem for the planet - our oceans are becoming clogged with the stuff and we're rapidly running out of landfill sites. Burning it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. So could plant-based alternatives and better recycling provide an answer?
With Californians already barred from getting plastic straws in many restaurants unless they request them and grocery stores not providing single-use plastic bags, state lawmakers are again proposing to ramp up efforts aimed at significantly reducing products that are not recyclable, including plastic cups, forks, spoons and packaging. New legislation announced Wednesday would require plastic and other single-use materials sold in California to be either reusable, fully recyclable or compostable by 2030. The measure would also require the state to recycle or otherwise divert from landfills 75% of single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California, up from the 44% of all solid waste that was diverted as of 2017. "We have to stop treating our oceans and planet like a dumpster," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), an author of the proposal. "Any fifth-grader can tell you that our addiction to single-use plastics is killing our ecosystems."
April is Earth Month, and there's no better way to celebrate than by surveying your single-use container waste. An average of 8 million metric tons of plastics end up in the ocean each year (and that's not even counting the 150 million tons that already live in the ocean), so we should all do our part to cut back on plastic. We already know that swapping plastic water bottles for reusable ones is a good start to becoming more sustainable, but another way to cut back is by ditching cartons -- namely, milk and milk-alternative cartons. That's where the Almond Cow comes in. The Almond Cow is a super-efficient plant-based milk machine that self-strains and makes almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, and more in under a minute.