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Circular Economy: What Is it & How Does it Help?

Plaine Products is designed to be part of the circular economy, a goal that reduces waste and conserves valuable resources. In a circular model, nothing is wasted. That was the goal when we designed all of our packaging to be reused for as long as possible. Once they are no longer reusable we ensured that our packaging is able to be fully recycled.

Linear Versus Circular Economy

Currently, the way we consume most products is based on a linear model.  Resources, like fossil fuels, are extracted from the earth.  They are made into products, those products are consumed, and then they are thrown away, never to be used again. Plastic packaging, bottles, and toys are all examples of this. But it’s more than plastics. When products made from wood, glass, cloth, or paper are thrown away instead of being repurposed, or reused, that is the linear economy at work.

Recycling can extend the use of some of the resources, but unfortunately, plastic can only be recycled once, maybe twice, before the materials become unusable and have to be sent to the landfill. Happily, aluminum and stainless steel can be recycled without any quality loss so they can be recycled infinitely and never need to end up in the waste stream.

However, due to the energy required by recycling (which is less than the energy required to make the original products from virgin materials), it is still better to reuse than recycle. So far our process of reuse has meant more than 400,000 plastic bottles (that would have gone into the waste stream eventually) were never used. We’ve also developed a Plaine Products wholesale program, with bulk and retail sizes, to increase access to our products around the USA.

Another way to reduce waste is to repair products. Groups like Fitxit.org are fighting for right to repair bills, which means access to manuals and support for small mom and pop repair shops. The bill requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provide consumers and independent repair businesses equal access to repair documentation, diagnostics, tools, service parts, and firmware as their direct or authorized repair providers.

Reducing Waste

At Plaine Products, we place a priority on sustainability throughout our company and voluntarily report on our impact each year. For Plaine Products, reuse is about more than just the bottles. It’s about the intent with which we created our ordering system to make sure unnecessary extra pumps are not sent out with every bottle. As much as we can, we reuse boxes, lids, and office supplies. Not only does this keep items out of the waste stream it also means less will be created in the first place.

In the past, it’s often been the environment versus the economy, but the Plaine Product’s model supports both. By cleaning and reusing our bottles Plaine Products is able to create jobs. Research indicates that reuse and remanufacture create 8 – 20 jobs per thousand tons of material compared to 5-10 jobs created per thousand tons of material by traditional recycling.

Since we do send bottles back out once they have been cleaned and refilled, they may have small dings when they arrive at your door. We hope you’ll appreciate that they are ensuring a lighter environmental footprint on the planet. However, if a bottle does acquire more dents while in your possession, it is always better to go ahead and recycle it than waste resources sending it back to us. A good rule of thumb is if it’s more dented than you’d want a bottle to be, go ahead and recycle it.

Box Reuse

Our boxes are sustainable. They are made from a 100% recycled containerboard which means absolutely NO new materials are used in their manufacture.  We also worked to develop boxes that fit our bottles, so we limit the amount of extra fill required to keep them safe during shipping. In most cases, they are shipped fill-free.

We also reuse our boxes as much as possible. Sometimes that means patching them up with paper tape so we can send them back out. Again, this means your box may look a little loved. But we hope you’ll appreciate the care and time it took to help these boxes make one more trip. To help us with those efforts it’s best not to use plastic packing tape when you are sending bottles back. Instead, use the return label to seal the box closed the same way we send the bottles to you.

In a circular economy, the focus is on preventing waste from even being created in the first place, and this is what we strive to do. Thank you for your continued support of Plaine Products and our mission to reduce waste on the planet.



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