today, we use plastic - a material designed to last forever - for products designed to last minutes.

  • PLASTIC IS CHOKING OUR PLANET: Each year, 32 million tons of plastic (including ⅓ of all plastic packaging produced) enter the environment with 8 million tons escaping into the world’s oceans. That is equivalent to five shopping bags filled with plastic garbage for every foot of coastline in the world. Sunlight and water currents shred the plastic into smaller particles called microplastics, which attract and concentrate toxic chemicals up the food chain and into our bodies.
  • PLASTIC POISONS THE FOOD CHAIN: With plastic acting as a toxic-conveyor-belt, sponging pollutants from surrounding waters into the tissues of everything that eats it - from plankton, to fish, to whales, to humans that eat seafood - plastic pollution is changing the very chemistry of life. Furthermore, the evidence continues to increase that plastic food packaging leaches toxic chemicals into the food and beverages we consume. Low-income families are more highly exposed as research shows they eat more packaged and fast food.
  • PLASTIC POLLUTION IS PRIMARILY FROM SINGLE-USE DISPOSABLE PLASTICS: The vast majority of plastic in the environment is from single-use disposable plastic products, mostly to-go food and beverage packaging. 
  • MORE RECYCLING WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM: While some have focused on improved waste management or more recycling for plastics as the primary solutions, most of the plastic we find in the environment has no value in today's recycling systems. It costs more to collect and process the material than you get from selling it.
  • PLASTIC USE IS EXPLODING: The plastic industry is projecting a 400% increase in plastic production over the next 30 years, growing to an estimated 20% of all fossil fuel use. Much of the growth is projected by expanding single-use-disposable applications for plastic - like plastic bags, coffee cups, to-go containers, food wrappers and straws - around the world. Today, approximately 25% to 40% of all plastic production goes to make packaging, with half of all plastic packaging used for single-use disposable applications. 1/3 of all plastic packaging ends up in the environment.

We’re working to replace today’s throw-away society with a culture of stewardship.

Imagine a tomorrow where:

  • WE DITCH DISPOSABLE PACKAGING: Restaurants and food-service businesses deliver food and beverages without disposable packaging, by ditching disposables for dine-in and promoting reusables for take-out. 
  • IF WE HAVE TO USE DISPOSABLE PACKAGING, WE USE NON-PLASTIC, BIODEGRADABLE MATERIALS: Where disposable packaging is used, it's made from sustainably-sourced, non-plastic materials that can biodegrade safely in the environment.
  • WE REDESIGN PACKAGING THAT'S HARMING THE ENVIRONMENT & OUR HEALTH: Companies identify plastic products that are harming the environment and our health, and redesign the product, package or delivery system so that it doesn't.
  • COMPANIES TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR REDUCING & RECYCLING THEIR PACKAGING: Companies take responsibility for reducing packaging, then collecting and recycling their own products and packaging.
  • BUSINESS INNOVATES TO CREATE SAFER, MORE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS: Through innovation and policy, new and safe materials replace harmful plastics and generate good jobs.
  • OUR ENVIRONMENT & OUR HEALTH THRIVE: Streets, waterways, beaches and oceans are free from plastic pollution, and our health and wildlife are free from plastic's toxic impacts on the food chain.  If we get out of plastic for high pollution products, we can solve this problem.

UPSTREAM is working to create this future. Join us today.