We need packaging to protect the goods we buy, and multipurpose plastic has been- and is becoming the most sought- after, versatile packaging material there is.
All areas of our modern society rely on plastic. The food and beverage industry, for instance, uses airtight plastic packaging to deliver its goods in a fresh state and with a longer shelf life.
Certainly, all food-contact packaging materials need to pass the FDA’s approval process before they are put on the market.
Innovative packaging – offers a host of benefits
The packaging has to protect the content while in storage and during transit. But not only that, but innovative packaging also has to be attractive to sell.
Durable, versatile plastic packaging performs this function well and provides other advantages such as being shatter-resistant, hygienic, lightweight and tightly sealable.
Also, plastic packaging has the advantage of being able to be recycled so that it can be transformed into new products. And yet if the plastic is so remarkable, why are there so many terrible reports of what plastic is doing to our environment? Why is it slowly killing the world?
Frightening plastic statistics
The ocean holds 97% of the world’s water in it. It feeds the billions of humans whose populations are burgeoning out of control and who are demanding more from it.
One wonders if these countries stop to think about what will happen to the fish they feed on when 12.7 million tons of plastic a year are disposed of into the sea?
Each year 100,000 sea creatures die from getting caught up in- or ingesting plastic. In fact, 1 in 3 fish caught for humans to eat has plastic in them.
A 2017 study also found that 83% of tap water samples from around the world were also found to contain plastic pollutants.
It is shocking to realize that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, is bigger than Texas and is 1.6 million square kilometers. The world is producing 381 million tons of plastic waste each year, a figure set to double by 2034.
Some marketing managers promote environmentally friendly packaging because they have responded to pressure from environmentally-conscious buyers for more biodegradable or recyclable packaging.
Then again, there are supermarkets, for instance, in the UK which despite conferences and information advising them to cut down on plastic, are using more plastic than ever. This is according to Greenpeace.
These supermarkets have actually increased their plastic footprint, and Greenpeace wants them to accelerate commitments to eliminate single-use plastic altogether.
One wonders if they can see that it is the big brands that supply supermarkets who are behind the rise in plastic packaging.
Global retailers come up with innovative plastic-free ideas
That may be the UK, but some retailers in the Netherlands are making use of innovative packages. A supermarket, Ekoplaza, has an entire aisle devoted to plastic-free products that are wrapped in metal, glass, cardboard or certified compostable plastic.
Iceland Foods, too, is a British retailer who has promised to eliminate plastic from its own branded products with the next five years in favor of compostable products.
Packaging Conference 2020, Omni Amelia Island, Florida
There are efforts to look at ways to develop new packaging solutions with plastic and to actually focus on lighter but better materials that have a lower environmental impact.
Today, in 2020, there is a heavy focus on plastic packaging and the environment, and complex issues like this are resulting in many conferences.
One of these will be held in February 2021 in Omni Amelia Island, Florida. At the conference, they will tackle the issue of plastic packaging and the environment from different angles.
The conference is dedicated to bringing technology and market information to packaging supply chain participants in industries such as pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and beverage, household and agriculture, among others.
Most of the people attending will be at the director level and higher and will represent the full spectrum of the packaging industry and cover hot topics from a diverse speaker list.
This event has been going on for some ten years already and was designed for packaging industry professionals.
By attending, those involved with plastic packaging, for instance, will be able to connect with leaders from across the packaging supply chain where they will be able to pick up valuable information on the latest innovations as well as the future direction of the industry.
Getting to the very root of the problem
In the 21st century, people think that technology is the be-all and end-all of modern life, but it isn’t going to get us out of our plastic waste dilemma.
People have to be educated on how burgeoning-out-of-control human populations are creating havoc on the amount of rubbish we’re creating and the terrible effect it has on our limited resources. We need to have our mindsets changed.
It appears to just be lip-service
World Environment Day is held every year on the 5th of June to raise awareness of things like this. In 2018 the theme was ‘Beat Plastic Pollution,’ focusing on single-use or disposable plastic.
It seems the world is paying lip service to the issue but seems to not be committing to themselves to solutions in any substantial way.