A Plastic-free Future
It’s no understatement to call the current state of plastic use a global crisis. Global plastic consumption has now reached a staggering 100 million tonnes of plastic in a single year, most of which is either littered, incinerated or sent to landfill shortly after use.
Plastic is so ubiquitous nowadays that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. This leads us to today’s article — a plastic-free future. Is it probable? Is it even possible? Today we’ll be exploring these questions and more to discover how a world without plastic could be achieved.
Why do we need a plastic-free future?
The UK is estimated to produce almost 5 million tonnes of plastic waste in a single year. Unlike many other materials, plastic takes hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of years to decompose. Until decomposition takes place, plastic waste persists on our planet, bombarding landfills and polluting oceans. Almost 700 species are known to have been affected by plastic pollution, with over 100,000 marine animals believed to be killed every year.
If our plastic consumption continues at this rate, we can expect irreparable damage to our planet.
Is a plastic-free future possible?
A plastic-free future seems a distant dream, but it’s not impossible. Visible effects of our plastic consumption have triggered a significant attitude shift towards plastic use. Many people are demanding change to our laws concerning plastic manufacturing, and many are choosing to boycott single-use plastic altogether. For a plastic-free future to be possible, these demands and practices must be amplified. While there are many ways you can reduce plastic consumption in your own home, we must unite to ensure single-use plastic is no longer in demand, causing corporations to turn to more sustainable practices.
What is being done currently?
In 2015, 146 million tonnes of plastic was used in packaging. Today, supermarkets are making changes to their stores to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they use.
- A Waitrose in Oxford now offer package-free refills on 48 of their products, plus over 160 varieties of their fruit and veg are plastic-free.
- Morrisons have announced plans to introduce plastic-free fruit and vegetable zones across many of its stores. 127 varieties of fresh produce will be loose and available to pack in paper bags.
- Marks & Spencer have removed plastic packaging and ‘best before’ stickers from over 90 lines of products in a UK trial.
What needs to be done in the future?
Despite plastic being reduced across a number of industries, we’re still far off a completely plastic-free future. There are a few measures that must be implemented to move in that direction.
- New sustainable packaging must be developed to compete with plastics on price and functionality. Research into such packaging must be accelerated to ensure it succeeds plastic sooner rather than later. Currently, wood pulp is looking quite promising; this is a speciality film that looks and feels like plastic but is entirely biodegradable.
- The government must clamp down on corporations and enforce strict regulations on plastic use.
- Development of plastic recycling must become a priority. Many plastics are currently recyclable, but many companies lack the facilities and skillsets to recycle them effectively. Instead, a huge proportion of recycled plastic is actually sent to landfill or incinerated, the latter of which produces harmful greenhouse emissions. If we can improve our capacity to recycle plastic, we can prevent the need to manufacture more plastic by circulating what we already have.
Here at H Brown & Son, we’ve been constantly investing and advancing our plastic recycling over generations. We have unparalleled knowledge of the process and can now recycle five different types of plastic. We offer professional plastic recycling, along with a range of other waste disposal services, to customers throughout Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe and the surrounding areas, and we make every effort to achieve a ‘zero-to-landfill’ target to help create a better future. To enquire about any of our services, give our friendly team a call today.