Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, tells Catherine Weetman why there are compelling reasons to design plastic out of our lives, and how PlasticFree.com helps us do that…
Plastic is embedded in pretty much every part of our lives. The plastics industry promotes it as the perfect material for thousands of products, being cheap, lightweight, clean, and convenient. But is that really true? And are there better ways to design products, packaging and systems to meet the needs of people, planet and prosperity?
I’ve been a long time admirer of Sian Sutherland and her work. Sian Co-founded A Plastic Planet, one of the most recognised and respected organisations tackling the plastic crisis and PlasticFree, the first materials and systems solutions platform, empowering global creatives to design waste out at source.
Sian is passionate about igniting social change, and creating brands and businesses with soul, and is a serial entrepreneur with a varied background across industries. In 2023 at the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations (INC2), in partnership with Plastic Soup Foundation, A Plastic Planet launched the Plastic Health Council, bringing the expert scientists to the negotiating process with the irrefutable proof of plastic chemicals impact on human health.
Sian is passionately pro-business and solutions focused, and believes the plastic crisis gives us all a way in to changing both materials and systems to create a different future for next generations.
I particularly like the courageous way that Sian helps us unpack the key issues around plastics and is actively creating and powering up a range of solutions of plastic-free solutions. As Sian says, by “fixing the plastic crisis, we will fix so much else”
I felt this was a really rich conversation. Sian and A Plastic Planet are involved in so many initiatives and I didn’t want you to miss out on any of Sian’s insights and ideas, so I’ve split the conversation into two episodes.
In this episode we talk about plastic free.com, a new systems and solutions platform for creatives, including designers technologists marketers strategists – that has thousands of case studies and proof points for plastic free solutions. We cover greenwash, vegan leathers, why chemistry is now essential for designers and makers, plus recent science on plastics and health.
Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer. Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).
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Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.
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Links we mention in the episode:
- A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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- Sian on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sian-sutherland-33485b10/
- A Plastic Planet on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/a-plastic-planet/
- PlasticFree on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/plasticfree-com/
Books, people and organisations we mentioned
- Degenerate trainer/sneaker from the Unless Collective https://unlesscollective.com/products/the-degenerate
- Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) https://www.nfw.earth/
- Book – The Day the World Stopped Shopping by J B MacKinnon https://www.jbmackinnon.com/the-day-the-world-stops-shopping
- Greenpeace article on how long the shopping buzz lasts https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/7493/shopping-doesnt-make-us-happy/
- Plants have adapted to the toxic conditions created by nuclear waste from Chernobyl https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190701-why-plants-survived-chernobyls-deadly-radiation
- Scientists are working to identify microbes that can feed on ocean and other waste plastics https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/14/bugs-across-globe-are-evolving-to-eat-plastic-study-finds
- Jo Chidley – episode 84 https://www.rethinkglobal.info/jo-chidley-rere/
- Algramo – episode 103 https://www.rethinkglobal.info/103-algramo-refill-the-future/
- Maria Westerbos of the Plastic Soup Foundation – episode 82 https://www.rethinkglobal.info/82-maria-westerbos-plastic-soup-foundation/
Sian Sutherland is Co-founder of A Plastic Planet, one of the most recognised and respected organisations tackling the plastic crisis and PlasticFree, the first materials and systems solutions platform, empowering the 160m global creatives to design waste out at source. Igniting social change, creating brands and businesses with soul is Sian’s passion. Multi-award winner, including Female Marketer of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year and British Inventor of the Year; Sian is a serial entrepreneur with varied background across industries. In 2023 at the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations (INC2), in partnership with Plastic Soup Foundation, A Plastic Planet launched the Plastic Health Council, bringing the expert scientists to the negotiating process with the irrefutable proof of plastic chemicals impact on human health.
Passionately pro-business and solutions focused, Sian believes the plastic crisis gives mankind a rare gateway to change both materials and systems to create a different future for next generations.
Want to dig deeper?
Why not buy Catherine’s award-winning book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy. Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable.
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Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’. Or, follow them on Twitter.