Source: CBInsights Earnings Call Tracker
The signal: In 2019, the European Union voted to ban single-use plastics, including phase out plans for plastic straws, bags, bottles, and even less obvious items like cotton bud sticks. The union is not the first to implement legislation encouraging or enforcing alternatives… Rwanda was one of the first to ban plastic bags in 2006, alongside other countries like South Korea and Colombia.
As the world turns their attention toward saving the planet, companies are increasingly focused on “greenwashing,” whether for altruistic motives or a little brand boost. One focal point for many companies has been transitioning to be “carbon neutral.” According to CBInsights’ earnings call tracker, the phrase “carbon neutral” was mentioned more frequently than ever last year, including in reports like this Bank of America press release. 2019 was the year that “carbon neutral” strategies didn’t just make their way into marketing copy, but started to be an important signaling tool to investors.
The opportunity: If turning the world “green” was so easy, this turtle wouldn’t end up with a straw up his nose. :’( But luckily, many companies are coming up with biodegradable solutions… some pretty high tech and others #notsohightech.
#Notsohightech: Restaurants in Italy are using pasta to replace straws.
Higher tech: Companies like Green Cell Foam have developed alternatives like their corn-based foam, which replaces those dreaded packing peanuts that stick to everything. Their solution, similar to Avani Eco’s cassava bags, dissolves in water or can be composted. Since they’re made from cornstarch (the same stuff used to thicken your favorite gravy), there isn’t a public health risk post-disposal.
People are already actively searching for some of these products:
- Edible packing peanuts: 2.4k monthly searches
- Biodegradable packing peanuts: 1.6k monthly searches
- Cornstarch packing peanuts: 480 monthly searches
As individuals and companies are forced to seek plastic alternatives due to legal and market shifts, it’s finally becoming economical to be green. Those that develop the right solutions will find themselves riding a clean wave of demand.