HomePackaging and MOCAAlternatives to plastic? The Greenpeace complaint

Alternatives to plastic? The Greenpeace complaint

The Mediterranean is a sea of ​​plastic and microplastics, as documented in the ISPRA 9.10.9 report . And thesolutions'proposed by Big food they are false, far from addressing one of the primary causes of marine pollution. Food packaging, in fact. Greenpeace's complaint, in the report 'The disposable planet. The false solutions of multinationals to the plastic pollution crisis', presented on 7.10.19.

Plastic, the Greenpeace complaint a Big food

Greenpeace denounces the approach of the agri-food giants towards the plastic pollution crisis. Alternative packaging materials - such as paper and bioplastics - and recycling are not enough, they are in turn not sustainable and cause further problems to be addressed in order to protect the environment.

The solution instead, it must be sought in overcoming the 'disposable' consumption model.

'The large food and beverage companies must give priority to reduction, publicly and immediately committing to eliminate single-use plastics, starting with the types of packaging that are superfluous and more problematic for recycling, reducing the number of plastic packaging and containers placed on the market.

Invest in systems alternative delivery systems based on bulk and refill. Be transparent by publicly disclosing single-use plastic production data, including the number of pieces, composition and weight of plastic packaging'. (Greenpeace, see note 1).

Paper, biodegradable materials and recycling, what doesn't work

The only replacement of plastic with alternative materials is not enough. According to Greenpeace, paper has a high environmental impact since it comes from wood and forests. The bioplastics themselves would come from agricultural crops, according to the environmental NGO.

'Biodegradable' it is itself a confusing concept, according to Greenpeace. Because some materials - although qualified as 'biodegradable' from a technical point of view - require peculiar temperature and humidity conditions, rarely found in nature. 'In practice, if dispersed in the environment they can give rise to the same problems as traditional plastic products', the report reads.

The recycling in turn it is a partial solution, since it is not certain that it will actually be adopted, even when the materials are prepared for it. Like ourselves we denounced, in the emblematic case of coffee capsules.

'For some plastics really recyclable such as Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and High Intensity Polyethylene (HDPE) recycling rates are still shockingly low. Only half of the PET sold is collected for recycling, and only 7 percent of the bottles collected for recycling are made into new bottles.

Much of the packaging plastic is subject to 'downcycling'. Instead of being used for new recycled plastic packaging, it is reprocessed for lower quality non-recyclable products. Furthermore, in recent years the quantity of packaging made up of different materials (polylaminates) that are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle has grown.'.

Packaging and pollution, what solutions?

'To solve the problem of plastic pollution, large companies must drastically reduce the production of disposable products, investing in product delivery systems based on reuse and refilling and which do not involve the use of single-use packaging'(Giuseppe Ungherese, Greenpeace, pollution campaign manager).

Greenpeace's approach it is provocative, useful to stimulate a wide-ranging reflection on compulsive and unsustainable patterns of consumption. A reflection on which one can only agree, bearing in mind the Lansink scale - better known as the 'waste hierarchy' - which is at the base of the circular economy.

The reuse system and refilling of food packaging, however, has to deal with food safety needs. These can be easily guaranteed on some product categories - such as dry foods and beverages of plant origin - but not on others.

The best packaging

'The best packaging is what is not there' (Stanislao Fabbrino, President and CEO of Fruttagel, al Green Retail Forum 2019)

Reuse it is undoubtedly the way to be privileged and promoted. It is still possible on glass bottles for example. As well as for containers intended for refilling, which are nowadays mainly used for detergents but could find new applications, with a minimum of creative innovation also by the large-scale retail trade in Italy. From legumes - strictly Italian - to pasta, all the better if made with Italian wheat. Up to drinks, such as fruit juices and mineral water, and condiments (oils and vinegars).

Charging services they could be offered at home, to save consumers from the burden and the memory of carrying around the containers to be filled. And their costs are offset, at least in part, by the savings on the environmental impact of packaging. Whose costs, thanks to SUPs directive (Single-Use Plastics), partly fall on the producers themselves.

The recycling however, it cannot be overlooked. On the contrary, it should be promoted through deposit systems with bail to be imposed by law. Among other things, these can be automated thanks to special 'collection stations', to be placed at the points of sale. The so-called RVM (reverse vending machine) made it possible to achieve extraordinary results, up to intercepting 90% of waste PET in just two years in Lithuania for example. (2) And this is the only short-term solution to achieve the plastic bottle collection targets set in the SUPs Directive, 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029.

Dario Dongo and Sabrina Bergamini


(1) Greenpeace (2019). The disposable planet. The false solutions of multinationals to the plastic pollution crisis

(2) In this regard see the valuable articles by Silvia Ricci for the Association of Virtuous Municipalities, on https://comunivirtuosi.org/argomenti/approfondimenti/, https://comunivirtuosi.org/sistemi-deposito-le-bevande -they-are-good-for-the-economy-the-environment-for-the-municipal-coffers/

+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

+ posts

Journalist. Consumption, rights, nutrition, social, environment. Head of Consumers Help. You have collaborated with ResetDOC, Il Riformista, La Nuova Ecologia, IMGPress.

Related Articles

Latest Articles

Recent Commenti

Translate »