In a recent report, it is stated that banning plastic packaging could end up actually harming the environment as stores are swapping the plastic for alternative packaging materials that does more damage.
Paper bags as an example are difficult to re-use and have higher carbon emissions than plastic.
Many stores are trying to scrap plastic packaging after shoppers raised their concerns about plastic waste.
In the report linked to above, the authors state that using new packaging materials has not been properly assessed so we do not yet fully know the consequences.
Several of the leading supermarkets have started swapping out the packages of their drinks so that they are in coated cartons believing that they are easier to recycle. The truth is, here in the UK, we only have the facilities to recycle a third of the coated containers in use.
Stores are trying to do what they can to answer their customers concerns but this is leading them to sell packaging that is classed as “biodegradable” or “compostable”. Again, in many places this has proven to be wrong as many of the items can only go in an industrial comoster and even then, they might not be fully broken down.
The report says: “Over 80% of consumers think biodegradable or compostable plastic is environmentally friendly, but there is little understanding of what the terms mean and how the material should be dealt with.
“Our interviewees wanted a clearer approach to where it should be used and how it should be marked to avoid confusing consumers and potentially causing more problems.”
Many shoppers are confused as to the true meaning of words such as “compostable” or “biodegradable”.
There needs to be a much better strategy in place to not only make the correct changes, but also to educate the people about why those changes matter.
While many people wish to rid the world of plastic, it has its uses. A cucumber can last up to 14 days longer when wrapped in plastic which in turn, reduces food waste.
Ministers have said that businesses will pay for 100% of costs for dealing with materials when it becomes waste, as opposed to around 10% of costs as it currently stands.
The government has partially banned microbeads, and a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is set to come in later this year.