As do many other sectors, the food industry has a plastic waste issue. In 2018, the Guardian estimated that plastic waste generated by Britain’s leading supermarkets amounted to about 800,000 tonnes a year. Half of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced every year worldwide is single-use, and 8 million tonnes of plastic eventually end up in the ocean, threatening wildlife and releasing microplastics, of which the potential adverse impacts have yet to be precisely determined. The ever-growing garbage patches in the middle of oceans are testament to the need to act on plastic waste.
Although this should never come at the expense of food waste reduction, there are ways to reduce single-use plastic waste, but these are currently too often left unexplored. Without even considering the option of swapping to biodegradable or compostable packaging, the most meaningful way of reducing single-use plastic waste would be to switch to reusable packaging whenever that’s possible. The convenience of single-use packaging has proved too harmful to the environment to be sustainable, and it needs to be renounced. More and more shops now offer discounts to customers coming with their own packaging, which is a way forward.
If you need more information on plastic waste, feel free to visit https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics.