Cameron Cooper talks about her sustainability work through Cooper’s Refillery. Society has tried numerous ways to reduce plastic use and promote recycling, but the amount of waste is still largely unaccounted for. Cooper’s Refillery is working to reduce plastic waste by focusing on the circular economy of plastics and rethinking sustainable production and consumption. In their work, the initiative is developing refill stations for reductions of single use plastics to redirect the future of our environment.
Experience as a field researcher for marine mammal conservation led to Cooper Refillery being created. During her time in field research, Cameron could see how even a limited amount of human interaction could alter the wild homes of marine mammals. Reducing plastic became the automatic driver of the initiative. Cameron gave a detailed explanation of the plastic issue in our environment, businesses, and community. Cameron summed up how this impacted the initiative:
“We decided that instead of trying to manage the plastic waste, we wanted to stop it at the source.”
Cooper’s Refillery aims to change the perception of plastic’s value. The main point of the initiative is to positively impact the environment, but Cooper has an interesting take on plastic’s value. She explained that plastic is seen as disposal in a linear economy where the products are produced and trashed. The common thought is that “Plastic is cheap, and made to be used once.” Copper’s Refillery is placing more value into plastics by bringing the products back into the economy and encouraging the standard of using plastic more than once. Convincingly, that’s a great point when you realize plastic bottles can last for more than four centuries.
After she gave context around the plastic concerns, Cameron began to explain circular economy; starting with the three principles of the circular economy. She goes on to discuss why this approach to plastic waste is related to both economists and environmentalists. Cameron spoke on how the circular economy approach shifts the focus of business and explained Cooper Refillery’s strategy to measure the actual impact in a way that can be presented.
Cameron gave a ton of value as we wrapped up the conversation. We talked about Cooper’s Refillery being in the user testing stage, and Cameron listed the prep that came before this point. A lot of this preparation is built with reading, researching, personal accounts, ambitions, and financial planning. She emphasized that financial planning is one aspect most people starting social enterprises overlook. While that preparation helps, Cameron also gave tips of building relationships with communities and mentors.
Cooper’s Refillery is currently based in the Netherlands with hopes to expand throughout Europe and the US soon. Cameron expressed his hopes for the future plans of the initiative. Both the long-term and short-term goals give more clarity on building impact.
“I think short-term goals are equally as important as long-term goals to keep yourself on track, and really building towards something.”–Cameron Cooper