Guest Post by Erika Mastrorosa*
This is the second post in a series about tackling plastic waste. Plastic pollution is a global emergency and it has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Following on from Erika’s first post about ways to eliminate virgin plastic bottles, we take a look at ways to eliminate plastic packaging for food.
There are FIVE things we do to reduce our plastic footprint.
- Eliminating virgin plastic bottles
- Eliminating plastic packaging for food
- Using alternative mixtures in manufacturing
- Introducing a deposit return scheme
- Choosing reusable cups and bottles
Over the coming weeks we’ll tell you about each one. This week we’ll are focussing Eliminating plastic packaging for food.
Eliminating Plastic Packaging for Food
If we think about the food we consume every day, we might not recognise its environmental impact. When we think about the environmental footprint linked to the food we consume, our mind probably goes to the polluting chemicals involved in food production, the carbon footprint of transportation or food waste.
These are certainly critical issues to be addressed, but what about the plastic used to package the food we consume? If we think about it, virtually everything we buy comes into a plastic package: the plastic film or the trays that wrap packaged fruit and vegetables, frozen food packaging and even plastic bags for fresh produce.
We are so used to it that we probably don’t even notice it, but retailers are among the main contributors to plastic pollution and are causing unprecedented damage to our oceans.
Amid growing concern over the environmental footprint of human activities linked to food production and distribution, many supermarkets have pledged to reduce the employment of plastic packaging and give customers the possibility of going plastic-free.
Iceland has been the first major retailer to commit to eliminating plastic packaging from its brand products, leading the way for UK supermarkets to shift towards more sustainable choices. The chain has promised to go plastic-free within five years, ultimately substituting all plastic packaging with paper trays and paper bags.
Following the initiative, Theresa May has pledge to reduce plastic waste through the Government’s 25-year environmental plan. Some supermarkets such as Ekoplaza in Amsterdam have already created plastic-free aisles, and the Guardian reported on small UK retailers including who have invested in zero waste projects.
The burden of reducing plastic footprint does not fall only on big retailers, but everyone must do their part. As used as we are to plastic, we tend to overuse plastic bags even when unnecessary. An example of this is the use of plastic bags for fruit, vegetables and other fresh goods. To tackle the issue, some countries have switched to eco-friendly, biodegradable bags. Although the compostable alternative has been a step forward in our fight against plastic pollution, consumers have failed to take responsibility and have been making use of the biodegradable bags beyond their intended employment in supermarkets. The issue has become so serious that some retailers have started to charge a small sum for every bag hoping to see a decrease in the overuse of compostable bags.
Stay tuned to find out about using alternative mixtures in manufacturing!
*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.