Don’t bag sustainability until you’ve tried it


By Alia Rayan, Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Bupa.

For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of climate change and the importance of looking after the environment, however like many people, sustainability was something I thought more about in passing rather than as an active part of my life. That was before eco-Disruptive… which suffice to say, disrupted everything.

I took part in eco-Disruptive, a program that empowers teams to develop sustainable solutions to some of the world’s biggest environmental problems with start-ups primarily because I like to challenge myself and discover new ways of working.

Immersing myself in the research with my team (Go Team Terra!), we discovered that every single piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists today. From that moment, the gravity set in and I felt I was no longer participating just to upskill myself, I wanted to make a difference within Bupa and within the world for the benefit of future generations.

The plastic problem

Over time, larger pieces of plastic break down into microplastics, which are small pieces less than five millimetres long. These are extremely harmful to people and planet earth, as these plastics pollute our water and marine life ingest these toxic poisons.  

Additionally, microplastic pollution is being detected in human blood and breast milk for the first time. This can lead to cell damage, among other serious human health complications that are still unknown. Facts like this reinforced the notion that we hear so often at Bupa that in order to have healthy people you need to have a healthy planet.

The amount of plastic used and discarded in Australia each year is huge: about 3.4 million tonnes. And about 30 per cent of this is single-use plastics, like plastic bags which remain a big problem despite retail stores working to phase them out. Each year, every person in Australia (on average) uses 45 plastic produce bags[1].

Finding a force for good

Empowered to find a solution, we began looking for start-ups that could make a difference. The search ended when we came across Cassava Bags Australia, a start-up that produces 100 per cent natural biodegradable bags that completely dissolve in water, degrade in landfill, and decompose everywhere else. Non-toxic, they contain no palm oil and are safe to be consumed by marine life. Bingo!

Alia Rayan, Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Bupa.

Together, we hope to create a bespoke solution that will reduce the healthcare industry’s reliance on traditional plastics, and change people’s mindsets about disposable products in general… they don’t need to be a force of destruction, they can remain in circulation as a force for good.

Alia Rayan, Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Bupa.

Moving forward with our journey

While we are still in the early stages of developing our solution with Cassava Bags Australia, I am feeling more energised than ever about the future despite the challenging road ahead to Net Zero.

We are thinking big, we are stepping outside our comfort zones, and we can’t wait to share whatever comes next!

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-is-a-global-offender-when-it-comes-to-single-use-plastic-waste-will-new-bans-make-a-difference-20221013-p5bph5.html#:~:text=Each%20year%2C%20every%20person%20in,commissioned%20by%20the%20Australian%20government.