What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
In 2015, the United Nations created seventeen sustainable development goals which are rooted in the ten principles that broadly span human rights and wellbeing, economic development, environmental sustainability and climate change. Since then, these goals have been markers for corporations and governments, brands and businesses, to collectively move towards a better and more sustainable world. The aim has always been to meet these seventeen goals by 2030.
Why are these goals so important?
The fact that these goals have been set by such a significant global initiative holds enormous weight. It’s proof of the urgency and scale that change needs to happen not just in our wider governing systems but in all places of power and influence. It provides an actionable framework for corporations and businesses and gives them the foundation to create their own sustainability goals. It also enables businesses like us to see where we can have the most impact and tackle the problem in manageable ways.
How is Shellworks contributing to these UNSDGs?
We’ve identified six of the seventeen goals that our work directly relates to, across wellbeing, environmental impact, changing the industry and helping consumers make better choices.
Goal Three: Good health and well-being
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
We are contributing to this goal by actively reducing microplastic pollution through developing Vivomer, a non-toxic, petroleum-free, natural material alternative to single-use plastic. Vivomer’s use in packaging materials will reduce the risk that traditional plastic poses to human health (you can read more about microplastics and how they affect us here).
Goal Nine: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
We want to break the dependence on petroleum and prove that our industry can grow sustainably through material innovation that eliminates plastic waste at the end of its life. We’re doing this by creating a new material that’s biodegradable and doesn’t leave any microplastics behind.
Biodegradation is nature’s waste management system. Composting infrastructure is how we can take natural principles of biodegradation and formalise them to deal with the outputs of human consumption responsibly.
By creating a material that is compostable, we can also transition waste management infrastructure to manage waste in a more responsible and environmentally friendly way and work towards developing new composting infrastructure.
Through eco-design principles and targeting recycling-disruptive packaging types (like mixed materials or small-format components), we’re alleviating the challenges to recycling, too.
Goal Twelve: Responsible consumption and production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
A big part of our mission is to help our customers and consumers transition to choices that are gentler and more planet-friendly, by offering them a packaging solution that’s home-compostable and free of fossil fuels. By creating a more streamlined packaging option that doesn’t require many wasteful components, we’re removing waste from consumption. And we make sure these values are integrated into the making of our products – we always use eco-design principles and ensure that the manufacturing process is wholly sustainable where possible from beginning to end.
Goal Thirteen: Climate action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
We use eco-design principles to minimise resource demand and focus on both function and end of life impact. We design for less small format components to reduce waste, and only use renewable carbon – never fossil carbon.
Goal Fourteen: Life below water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Our material breaks down into natural constituents in any natural environment, including marine environments. While we would hope that no Vivomer ever ends up in the ocean as marine litter, if it were to, it will fully biodegrade without creating microplastics that are harmful to marine life.
Goal Fifteen: Life on land
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Our material passes soil toxicity testing to certify as compostable. This is important as when microplastics enter these environments, it can fundamentally alter the soil ecosystem and affect food chains. We do not use or generate microplastics, which mitigates the problem of soil toxicity.
Fundamentally, as a business we are always working towards a more sustainable world. We do this by developing non-toxic, petroleum-free, natural and compostable materials that only last as long as they need to. In doing so, we’re collaborating with our partners – influential businesses, brands and corporations – and supporting them in their own sustainability development, collectively working towards achieving these goals set out by the United Nations.
UNEP. (n.d.). The 17 goals | sustainable development. United Nations. https://sdgs.un.org/goals