Interview with Troy Swope, Footprintus.com
Lillian: Welcome back.
to Passionate World Talk Radio, the world in your hands, and Cool Your Heels with Lilian heard on AMFM247.com every Tuesday evening from 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern. This afternoon our special guest is Troy Swope the CEO of Footprint,an environmental company found at https://footprintus.com who is going to be speaking about single use plastic bottles today. He’s the CEO of Footprint. He’s going to talk about eliminating single usage of plastic bottles today.
Lillian: So we all know there’s a lot of plastic in the ocean. In fact apparently there is a landmass that is already out there. And it also has endangered the marine wildlife as well. So what can you tell us that nobody does know about plastic in the ocean?
Troy: Well I think there’s a lot of real good information out there about it. We’re getting educated more and more every day.
Troy: I think the problem’s a lot bigger than what we think it is. I think the misconception is that you picture this big floating mass of plastic that you could come in and scoop it up without harming marine life. But the reality is that the plastic breaks down into micro plastics which makes it very very difficult to clean up almost impossible to clean up. There’s a lot of focus on cleaning up. I think there needs to be equally as much focus on we need to stop the tap. So it kind of feels like today that we’re spending a lot of energy on it. Let’s talk about cleanup and reuse and recycle but the tap is still on. So it’s a bit like the analogy of you’re mopping your floor while your kitchen sinks spilling over. But yet you haven’t turned off the kitchen sink right. So first and foremost we’ve got to stop that tap and then start talking about what’s a reasonable process for cleanup.
Lillian: So basically what you’re really saying is that people need to stop using so many plastic products before you can really go out and do something about the problem of plastic. Troy: That’s correct.
Troy: I think technology is a responsibility to offer solutions for the consumer the alternatives to. It’s so difficult to just say stop using plastic especially with food service delivery that you have today and every drink that you look at today Gatorade and water and all these things that are in plastic today it’s very difficult to just say hey let’s stop using plastic. I mean it’s certainly some conscious thing that we could do. You could ask your favorite brands like hey I’d like an alternative. Consumers are doing that. They’re moving away from brands that are just overly overly using plastic or they don’t need to be really technology and business needs to step up and offer solutions that are competitive and perform well that have a much better in life scenario. And that’s what we’re doing a footprint. But there’s a lot of other companies similar to footprint that are solving the problem in other ways.
Lillian: So maybe people have become more aware of using plastic by using the plastic they already have and using it again.
Troy: This is a great strategy. I liked that a lot. As long as we’re reducing or eliminate single use plastic I like to reuse concepts. I think that’s that’s a great strategy.
Lillian: I know that they are now turning plastic into shoes and there’s somebody else a fashion designer has turned it into a shirt.
Is that going to be viable as well.
Troy: That’s certainly part of the cleanup efforts right. So create a market for cleaning it up and then there will be a business that will go out there and collect it so that businesses like Adidas can say hey I’m using ocean plastic. But again the analogy is the cleanup. There’s also getting an equal or stronger effort to stop the tap. Right. Stop dumping it into the ocean. This is driving your favorite brand. This is going to necessarily snag rides enticing Wal-Mart saying hey we don’t want this in plastic. Find alternatives. I think as we get more and more educated consumers, consumers are doing that. Certainly Millennials and Generation Z are really educated on this and really smart my children are educated everyday and I’m in the industry. They know the impact of this. And I think the reality is we don’t want to have to explain to our children and our grandchildren what is used to look like. We need to fix this now or stop this problem now.
Lillian: I agree with you. Do you believe then that the problem was caused by the landfills and the potential storms that have come from places like Japan and the Philippines and some of the other islands that are out in the oceans. So when a storm comes along and when there’s a violent storm, it sweeps everything out to sea. There’s certainly an impact to that.
Troy: I think every day there’s a there’s a problem with it call leakage. So every day I mean very little a very small percentage of our plastic actually truly gets recycled. And now we’re getting data that the plastic that we did recycle the market for it was going to China. Trying tom they didn’t want it anymore. We just created it. And so we send it to Malaysia and Malaysia doesn’t want it. So we’re recycling it because we think we’re doing good. Hey let’s recycle it doesn’t truly get recycled it’s just getting moved around if you will. But to your point yes that’s part of the leak is it gets to the ocean. You have storm landfills that aren’t managed. But the reality is every single day is what we call leakage. Only about 20 to 25 percent of the waste just doesn’t make it to a landfill doesn’t make it to a recycler it gets in that way gets into waterways and then waterways take it out to the ocean on the side of the road. It’s troubling once you start thinking about it when you get to a stop light or stop sign you look around and you’ll see what looks to a beautiful environment. But if you look really close you’ll see pieces of trash in the medians, the curbs, and you start wondering how long is it’s going to be there. How long has that been there?
Lillian: And so what you’re really trying to say is that everybody plus companies have a responsibility to try to stop the flow of traffic. So if you’re going to stop the flow of traffic do you start reusing items like again.
Troy: Yeah I think glass aluminum and paper are gonna be real effective strategies long term. Glass is infinitely recyclable aluminum. Those three components of the most recycle components on earth. They do make it if there is a leakage on those products that degrade. So yes I think that you’ll see aluminum glass and paper being a fixture in packaging single use packaging long term.
Lillian: So how do you get people on companies to start the flow of traffic and alternatively to other ways of bottling or using them because they use plastic and practically everything. I mean I’ve been around since the 50’s and I suspect you’ve been there around there too. So we all know how it was done then. Is that going to be a real high cost to turn the clock back a little bit and stop.
Troy: It doesn’t have to be right. The fiber technologies out there like footprints developing today are very, very cost effective right. And that’s part of business’s responsibilities to develop solutions.
Troy: In the words sustainable means they have to be sustainable from a cost standpoint. These businesses have to run a business nationally and ConAgra in case they have to run a business. So we have to be pragmatic. They can’t do something that just kills their bottom line or they won’t they won’t exist. But that’s the responsibility. In reality the opportunity of technology to go develop solutions that are not only better in life scenarios where they’re biodegradable compostable or Marine debatable but they’re cost effective so that they can put them in. But as consumers we could demand these businesses they have the resources to accelerate those developments and get them into the marketplace. I think that’s happening. Consumer sentiment relative to plastic has drastically changed behaviors. I know that nationally and Tyson and ConAgra are really working to make change. They’re looking for cost effective but the more demand they get from it. This isn’t just legislation. This is probably got a two part answer this but consumers are driving this. They’re going out and saying I’m going to turn away from your brand. If it’s not the right packaging in some cases you can argue that the plastic packaging in food today is not only concern relative to pollution but it’s a concern relative to human health.
Troy: We shouldn’t be microwaving plastics. We shouldn’t be drinking white water bottles that outcast the plastic outcasts. And we’re finding that almost all of us have plastic in our bodies. And it’s really unknown what do we know. I think it’s alarming all the relative increase in inconsistent issues is aligned with how much we microwave plastic today and how much we trade out of plastic water bottles today. Second part relative to cost. Is that you when you look at the true cost of plastic to clean it up. We’re not really recycling. We’re gonna have to put it in landfill forever. It’s going to be in there hundreds of years. It’s in our environment a hundred years. When you add that to cost things like glass and aluminum and paper are gonna be far more cost effective. When you look at the total cost it is to the municipalities in the cities and so forth that have to go and clean the plastic up.
Lillian: So who do you think is really responsible then for saying that the plastic should be slowed down and what they’re using it for and scale up for the entire alternative. Do you think it’s a state wide that state should be doing it. Should the individual be doing it or should a government mandate go at.
Troy: I don’t love government mandates. I do love that governments have to run the government business and they’ve got to run a business too. Plastic is expensive for a business. From a pollution cleanup from a landfill management to plastics is a pain in the butt. Right now they don’t have an end user despite all this traffic. And then there’s a cost to it. So the government needs to apply that right cost. And then the real reality after that brand owners own this right. As long as it’s the right amount of pressure on the brand owners saying hey we want alternatives we don’t want our food in plastic. We want our food in safe glass and paper in potentially an aluminum solution. So as a consumer we could demand our favorite brands or even turn away from our favorite brands and buy the alternative.
Troy: I personally buy all yogurt that’s in glass. And to me it tastes better once I started doing it. I recognize that it tastes better water tastes better in glass but there’s demand of your favorite brands to accelerate this development because the solutions are out there.
Lillian: Now we’re just talking about plastic bottle. What about the other uses of plastic that we use an awful lot of land up into landfill construction material?
Troy: Well a lot of construction materials are not in a single use plastic. But again that’s not an area that I know really well. But again there’s the consumer.
Troy: If the consumer doesn’t see it you’re probably not getting as much legislation or demand on it but it’s also an area that we could start putting pressure on the business when we see it in the environment we can go back to the business owners and say hey there needs to be and this is where municipalities step in the government step in. There needs to be a an appropriate fee tax if you will on cleanup. Right. So if this is left on construction sites or or in construction management who’s going to clean it up. What is the cost of that cleanup. Right now all this apologies burden that cost of cleanup is stored in a landfill cost right. Long term it having to continue to build more landfills and more lives as more lives because we don’t break anything down today. And you know we’re working on it in Phoenix and Phoenix. They’re already digging up landfills and trying to get degradation in the landfill which will then make these people and break down a biodegradable materials far more valuable until the cost of the things that don’t break down that they’re going to have to store forever that used to apply to the business.
Lillian: Because I’m always curious. I know that plastic really is used for a lot of stuff that primarily is in the water bottle. So that’s a lot of storage containers. I know they use a lot of it and car some other things to make materials lighter so that they don’t have to have everything so heavy. So I’m just curious as your comment a concern just overall with the bottle. Are you concerned with all the uses of plastic sense it’s a byproduct oil.
Troy: Yeah we’re actually we’re focused on single use plastic so not just water use plastic cups or even cup liners single use plastics gift cards or just boxes and razors and toothbrushes and frozen food items bowls trays those kinds of thing. So we’re focused on single use plastic. I think plastic is an exception material my background chemistry. I’ve actually created a lot of plastic solutions in the past. Now I’m focused on reducing it but I think if we can stop single use plastic that’s a huge win. Plastics in your car today. That can be recycled in recycled effectively plastic computer plastics and that is not equal use. We will be able to recycle those things are reused. It won’t have near the burden. It’s where we use it one time 30 minutes. It is effective value to the consumer now hour it’s going to be one hundred a year. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Lillian: No it doesn’t. And I’ve always wondered whether or not global change global warming and climate change have anything to do with the fact that plastic casts multiplied so much as well. I know that we used to get things out of these machines and aluminum cans and I think it started out and by the time you’re finished now up to a dollar more expensive than that. And I know there are a lot of sodas and milk and everything else all the plastic. So could you just encourage people to use the plastic of these containers and alternate ways. Would that be considered a good use of it.
Troy: It’s anything that we can do to curb it or slow it down. It is not a bad idea right. You tell folks to use it. It’s important to know how to recycle it. I think I go into my local favorite Starbucks and some of them depending on the county or the municipality that they’re in or city that they’re in has real effective disposal composting locations and recycling clearly marked in traditional trash is marked but then also go to other ones here in the valley. Absolutely. All of it’s mixed and it’s very confusing to me. Are we not recycling this here. Why is it so understanding how to recycle everywhere is critical. Slow it down. We use wherever possible. There are a lot of technologies coming online that that are changing you’re going to see a drastic change in our grocery store today.
Troy: I think Wal-Mart is really quietly driving a ton of change. It’s actually unbelievably fantastic company to work with.
Troy: They are driving a ton of change and I think that once they start driving a lot of change that you’ll see all the rest the world’s going to follow. Put it the right solution but again short term recycle where you can’t understand how to recycle compost drive composing. I think we should ask our municipalities to put in posting. Why wouldn’t we. I think that will understand that that’s more cost effective long term for the cities and then drive your favorite brands to implement alternatives.
Lillian: So is this a worldwide effort.
Troy: Well you’re certainly seeing it in the United States and Europe right. There is going to come online but actually China I think starting first by stopping youth collecting our trash. Step one and I think just trying to come online. They’re not far behind. They’ve done a ton of stuff as far as clean clean energy and they’re doing a lot of work relative to electric vehicles. So China will be far behind before they start demanding alternatives as well as they could get more and more educated on how they’re impacting the problem.
Lillian: And that’s a good thing because it’s our responsibility to pass along this environment to almost the way we found it originally. And we can’t do that if it’s all messed up with bottles floating all over the ocean or even being lined up on the street. I mean that’s what you see on the streets mostly discarded smashed plastic that are there in your sewer sytems blocking water tunnels where the water is carried away from this.
Troy: Yeah I was just I was just in love and it was just absolutely beautiful weather and a beautiful place. We got to round about I stop looking and just going Wow what a beautiful day and it’s beautifully green and we started having a similar conversation about single use plastic and looking around a sheet of rubbish just pretty much on the side of the road. You just become numb to it. Like you don’t even realize it’s there. And I started thinking to myself you know how long has that been there. And even in this most beautiful place where it’s just outside of London and all these just absolutely gorgeous place and even they had an issue and I was just thinking to myself you know like the oceans. It’s not just an ocean problem it’s all on land. Driver What are your favorite cities. You just really truly look around and you’ll see plastic even paper cups that are lined with plastic that are there for ever. What’s troubling is these big brands like in U.K. Costa coffee in Starbucks and McDonald’s and these like you wouldn’t want your brand out in the road for years just getting trashed and it just it degrades your brand. Ironically it doesn’t decrease. You would think that these brands as consumers get smarter and smarter and you know we don’t want your trash everywhere.
Lillian: You would think that one would not want trash everywhere but it seems to be prevalent. So I’m hoping that maybe they can find contests or something they can pick up the math class and think of ways of using it certain way. Just having some water and then discard it seems like a waste of energy to produce that bottle.
Troy: Yeah that’s a good idea to start getting companies. What can we do with the trash. I think there is actually something the other day with some kind of running event where you run around and collect trash and take pictures of that kind of stuff is just helpful. Just straight and drives awareness dates and social media recognition to doing something better.
Lillian: I think it does get people involved in something that they themselves should be involved in because they’re the ones who have created the problem in the first place. They drink from the water bottle and then they throw it away.
Troy: I think that’s where as consumers we don’t know what happens when we just throw it away. The most common misconception when I talk to people is that it’s recycled it’s good. Plastic doesn’t truly ever get completely recycled again. It gets down cycle. It has a very difficult time being the same thing twice as it gets down cycle that has no value or has less value when it doesn’t have value then it just sits in landfills.
Troy: When we have leakage it goes to oceans which is too bad because then the marine life swallow it and then die or get those plastic things around their neck and I suffocate. And it seems. Bad that they need to be punished because of mass carelessness.
Troy: It’s troubling to see that just recently all the people in Italy believe Sperm whales are coming up with jellyfish, but are mistaking plastic bags. If 50 50 pound bags in the stomach are dying it’s troubling to of us a simple solution right now.
Lillian: So Troy please tell everybody where they can find your organization your web address contact information. Anything else that you can provide for a listening audience so they can have a step up in the right direction.
We’re footprint technology so we’re we’re a technology company aimed at eliminating single use plastic and you can find us that footprint U.S. dot com. (footprint.us.com
Lillian: Great. And ladies and gentlemen you can hear this interview all over again. Go over to Passionate World Talk Radio.com. Click on Hosts, scroll down to Cool Your Heels and you’ll find me that way or you can hear me in two weeks which will be approximately the 18th of June from 8 to 9 p.m. on AMFM247.com. You can also hear it all on social media. You can hear it also on iTunes, I Heart Radio, smart player, smart TV, and before you go away and stray Ovid had this to say. “Envy can scarcely hold back her tears when she sees nothing to cry out.” Thank you all very much for listening. And remember recycle that plastic bottle.
There’s more to life than you know. Until next time. Thank you.
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