In our modern-day life, it is very common to come across plastic packaging. Although this kind of packaging is used in a variety of places, it is clear that it is becoming an environmental hazard as they are not usually reused. Therefore, every time one uses plastic packages, they dispose of it.
Unfortunately, so many countries that use plastic packaging do not really have a program that’s been put in place to enable them to recycle used plastic packaging. The increase in population and economic growth makes such countries also increase the rate of consumption and in the long run, plastic packaging use will go high.
Since 2010, there has been an investment of over $ 180 Billion by fossil fuel companies, meant for the production of raw materials from petroleum which is developed into common forms of plastic.
Global production is bound to be increased by 40% by these new facilities in the next 10 years. This is due to the desire to be able to create and meet demand in booming markets for goods that are fast and cheap, despite the experts’ warning of pollution of the earth due to increased plastic pollution.
Due to the increasing pressure of changing for the better by scientists, environmental advocacy groups and also a popular opinion, some positive changes have been made. For instance, the United States put a focus on ban of plastic straws in several states.
What are the threats of plastic to the environment?
There is a myriad of ways in which plastic usage threats the environment. The material that is used to create plastic, known as fossil fuel is usually nonrenewable. The rate at which it is being used up in the forms of gasoline, plastic products, and industrial oil is distressing.
As fossil fuels get drilled, transported and burned up, these activities pose an immense negative effect to the environment. Also, plastic products generated from petroleum are absolutely biodegradable, meaning their waste products are dreadful.
Do you realize how serious the environmental crisis is with our increased consumption of products packaged in plastic such as the bottles and plastic food wrappers? We are so preoccupied with using cheap, disposable products that we do not realize the dangers they have in the environment.
Plastics do not biodegrade fully, as they continually break into smaller and harmful pieces which can persist the process of weathering. A good example to show this is a garbage disposal site, which accumulates plastic debris and over time, it gets piled up with a humongous amount of waste.
Huge tons of plastic are usually produced by supermarkets as they use them in packaging foods such as cheese and sliced fruits, and it is very unlikely for them to reuse such packaging. The good thing is, some of the brands have come up with innovative ways of packaging their products so as to reduce the plastics that cannot reused like creating plastic alternatives which are biodegradable.
Initiatives taken in recycling to minimize single-use plastics
Statistics has proven that consequently after use only 14% of the plastic from product packages is recycled where us a whopping 40% is deposited to the environment. In fact, statics adds that by 2050, we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans.
This has fuelled various initiatives to reduce single list plastics. There have been several initiatives around the globe to reduce single-use plastics. Some of the major corporations are taking a different path in the packaging of plastics. A good example is Unilever.
It is currently doing its best in showing other corporations the possibility of using recyclable plastics in packaging. It is also proving to big recycling operations that its products are can be easily recycled. Stores have set news rules that would allow buyers to carry their own containers.
This is to discourage new packaging every time one will be going to the supermarket. In addition to that, they would also enable customers to take some of the commodities like meat products directly from the counters.
In some countries like the United Kingdom, supermarkets have decided to voluntarily turn to more recyclable and reusable ways of handling packaging. They expect to achieve this by 2025.Through legislation which is very possible.
However it calls for innovation since alternatives will have to be invented for the sake of the public. This is because would they expect a smooth transition in packaging. Other stores are eyeing new materials which are not only biodegradable but can also serve the customers well.
Alternatives to plastic
Plastic is majorly composed of polystyrene. Chemists have proved that polystyrene is almost completely non-biodegradable it would literally take centuries for them to decompose fully. Fortunately, enough scientists are uncovering new materials which can act as an alternative to polystyrene. One of them is mycelium.
Mycelium is extracted from mushrooms. It can be used to make packages and containers which would serve just as well as plastic. It is cheap to manufacture since mushrooms require minimal effort to grow is extensive. Nestle has recently invested in sustainable packaging and targets to fully use recyclable plastics by the year 2025.
Without the combined efforts of manufacturers globally recycling would make a very small difference. If fishes are still to rule the oceans we can only hope for the merged efforts of various corporations with a common goal to reduce the consumption of plastic.
Conclusively, manufacturers are making a deliberate attempt to provide substitute packaging other than the single-use kinds that are later thrown away. It’s the responsibility of communities to provide a reliable, easy and comprehensible approach to recycling programs which can enable them to recycle plastics in eco- friendly ways.