Addicted to Plastic: Kicking the Habit
It has been estimated that 850 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases will enter the atmosphere, as a result of plastic production, this year alone. Plastic starts extraction of fossil fuels and ends up contributing to environmental damage. In addition to emissions, animals and humans are now consuming micro-particles of plastic in the food we eat.
Over a third of all plastic packaging is discarded after one use and, whilst some plastics can be recycled, only a small minority is. In truth, it is often cheaper to produce new plastic than to collect, clean and reprocess existing plastics. As the plastics do not break down, they accumulate. We’ve all seen images of rivers and seas, beaches and countryside filled with plastic waste.
Reducing Plastic Packaging
Plastic is used to manufacture a wide range of products, but the majority of single-use plastic is used to package and distribute products. From bubble wrap and polystyrene foam to drinks bottles and food wrappers, we are all adding to the stockpile of plastic waste every day.
EU legislation to address plastic pollution will come into force in 2021. This ‘Plastic Ban’ Law will tackle 10 major sources of plastic pollution, including straws, cutlery, cotton buds and hot drink lids.
Many companies are already implementing changes, but these are being led by consumer influence, rather than legal action. More of us are seeking out alternative options; making small yet significant changes to reduce the volume of plastic waste.
5 Tips for Reducing Plastic Use
As a consumer, there are 5 simple steps that you can take in order to start making a difference:
1. Carry a refillable water bottle with you. Water-to-Go bottles include a filter, which means you can fill up from any freshwater source with confidence. We are delighted that Aylesbury has officially become a Refill town, so you can fill up for free in a number of local shops and cafes.
2. Make sure that you always carry a tote bag. Whether a considered purchase or an impulse buy, you have the means to take it home.
3. Where possible, avoid products that are wrapped in plastic. Try farmer’s markets for locally sourced goods. At the supermarket, pick brands which use glass, tin or cardboard packaging which can be reused and recycled, or if the option is available, take your own containers to fill.
4. It’s difficult to avoid plastic if you regularly eat ready meals and lunchtime meal deals. Getting up 10 minutes earlier could give you time to prepare meals that are better for you, your wallet and the environment. Alternatively, cook a little extra at dinner and you have lunch for the next day.
5. Consider whether it is possible and practical to have milk delivered in glass bottles to your doorstep. Local dairies will let you know whether your home is on their route, as well as the cost and timing of their round.
Cutting Out Plastic Packaging: 5 Considerations for Manufacturers
As a manufacturer or retailer, there is no need to wait for laws to come into force. Now is the time to respond to consumer demand and make a difference. If it is time to change your product packaging, focus on the following points:
1. Remove or Reduce – The first consideration is whether it is possible to completely remove or considerably reduce any aspect of your product packaging, without impacting on the quality.
2. Replace – Can the plastic elements of your packaging be substituted for alternative packaging materials? Aylesbury Box Company is happy to advise on whether cardboard could be a viable packing material for shipping and storing your goods.
3. Reuse – explore how changes to the packaging design could improve the chances of the packaging being reused. This includes building durable construction and desirability.
4. Repurpose – with creative thinking, prints, templates and instructions can encourage your customers to transform the most basic cardboard box into a variety of other items; both fun and practical.
5. Recycle – As the final step, it should be easy to separate and recycle all materials in your packaging. Only materials which are widely collected and recycled should be used.
Kicking the Plastic Habit
We have all become so used to plastic being part of our daily lives. Although attitudes are changing, it is not currently easy to take an active stance and refuse all plastics. The more consumers, manufacturers and retailers that opt for alternatives, the more likely that we will be able to cut out single-use plastics. Aylesbury Box Company has helped many brands to switch from plastic to sustainable cardboard packaging, contact us if you would like to know more: 01296 436888.
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