From the deep mountains of the Himalayas to what was washing up on the shores of Hong Kong, Laska Pare was shocked by the mounds of plastic she saw.
“You could be in the most remote places and still find piles of plastic,” Pare said, recalling his time halfway around the world. “It was becoming more and more common that it was just destroying these sacred places.”
The amount of trash that ends up in such beautiful scenes bothered her so much that it prompted her to move to British Columbia and began her unexpected path to founding Flipside Plastics in Victoria.
Starting out in government, she spearheaded small recycling initiatives and — after seeing the trash can overflowing with single-use coffee cups every morning — she switched her department to reusable cups. But as the bureaucratic pace of change became too slow for Pare, she began shredding and molding blue plastics in her condo.
Supported by a Clean BC grant last year, Pare and his small team of micro-recyclers have spent 2021 cycling through partner cafes, picking up buckets of discarded coffee cup lids. The eight-month grant came with strict deadlines for having a finished product, so Pare surveyed local businesses to gauge which product would be in demand.
This led her to make prototype soap dishes from the otherwise trashed lids.
After seeing the supply chain issues revealed by the impacts of the pandemic, Pare wants Flipside to demonstrate how supporting local businesses can create a household, circular solution to plastic waste.
“What we’re doing is very unique, we’re taking Canadian waste and making new products right here in Canada,” she said. “People thought it was cool that we were turning the plastic they were throwing away into something new.”
As it expands with a BC-based manufacturer and reliable provincially-sourced recycled material feedstock, Flipside is launching its upgraded soap dish model in October. The second-generation design is hollow with drainage holes and a separate drip tray underneath for soapy water to prevent it from dripping onto counters or other surfaces.
The design will help extend the life of the soap bars, resist drops and breaks, last a long time and solve all the “micro inconveniences” one might tolerate with a normal soap dish, said Parry.
The CEO also expects governments to be on the verge of requiring producers to include more recycled content in products, so she sees Flipside as ahead of the curve in the industry.
“Being able to find the right suppliers to work with and some really great partners who understand the value of what we do, I’m really excited about what the future holds.”
That future will hopefully involve breaking into the broader household goods market, Pare said, with products made with recyclable materials instead of virgin plastics.
She wants a society that overuses disposable and single-use plastics to switch to reusable items, while showing that plastic doesn’t have to be the enemy if used responsibly in a robust recycling system.
“If you’re very careful about what you’re converting him into, there’s potential for him to do really good.”
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