Rethinking Plastic Packaging
By MedTech Outlook | Tuesday, April 09, 2019
The world is awash by single-use products designed and manufactured to be thrown away without a second thought. As per the latest statistics, around eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year, killing and harming marine life. It is clear that a high priority action is needed on multiple fronts. Among that one key area of direct concern is the plastic packaging used globally. To reverse this trend, people should demand reusable, recyclable products and make strides to reduce plastic consumption in their daily lives. Promising plans start with cutting down and simplifying a firm's plastic footprint ahead of anything else.
To help tailor an end market for this plastic material, packaging industry should be committed to increasing the recycled plastic content in their packaging to at least 25%. That is, the packaging industry has to move away from single-use plastic packaging—Plastic made to be used only once. An increasing number of brands, retailers, and packaging companies are using reusable, recyclable and compostable plastic material, establishing themselves as proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics re-processors to recycle the material.
New packaging formats and alternative models of consumption, such as introducing cardboard packaging, alternative materials such as aluminum, paper, and glass can significantly reduce the plastic footprint. Brands are currently exploring a range of innovations, including new paper-based materials as well as biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable. These innovative models are promising. They are part of an informed set of actions, which include promoting recycling and developing novel biodegradable and compostable packaging solutions.
The longer-term ambition is to stop plastic leakage into the environment across people's operations. But the primary challenge lies in collecting and sorting waste, particularly in countries without formal waste management systems. Initiatives which aims to improve plastic collection and recycling, and create jobs and commercial activity through this process are also on the go.
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Achieving hundred percent recyclable or reusable packaging is not enough. Humanity should stop using plastic packaging where it makes sense and explores alternatives, such as paper-based and biodegradable or compostable materials.