The pollution of our planet through packaging waste is a major problem for nature, animals and people. In 2016 alone, 18.2 million tonnes of packaging waste were generated in Germany (Federal Environment Agency, 2018). Especially plastics, which are hardly biodegradable at all, are increasingly becoming a problem.
The calls for good alternatives are therefore becoming louder and louder. Some people are demanding that we should simply switch to glass and paper. Or to more unconventional and sometimes very hyped materials like bioplastics or PLA. But unfortunately, it is not that simple, because these substitutes also have their disadvantages – no one has yet found a universal “packaging hero”.
This new, supposedly “biodegradable” alternative to conventional plastic unfortunately still has a few downsides. For the production of bioplastics, large quantities of maize or sugar beets have to be cultivated, for which the necessary agricultural land is lacking in Europe. Although these can be found elsewhere in the world, the soil is used by the locals there to grow food, which ensures survival and livelihood. But an even bigger problem: bioplastics cannot (yet) be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. The biggest argument against conventional plastic, applies here, too.
Recycling more important than the choice of material
A look at the ecological balance of various other plastic alternatives such as glass, metal or paper shows: First and foremost it is important to reuse these materials and not to throw them away after a single-use, which is the norm. A study by the Federal Environment Agency (“Plastic bags”, 04/2013) came to the conclusion that paper bags only perform better ecologically than plastic bags if they are made of recycled material. As a disposable product, paper is not a suitable (sustainable) alternative, as valuable wood raw materials are needed and consumed in its manufacture.
The production of glass and tinplate is so energy-intensive that the life cycle assessment is only good if the products are used several times and do not have to be transported far. “Disposable glasses are no more environmentally friendly than plastic cups”, Rolf Buschmann from the environmental association BUND says. “And since they are heavier, their transport costs even more energy.” (Source: FOCUS)
An increase in the clever reuse of packaging material is its complete avoidance. This completely waste- and packaging-free future is wishful thinking, but unfortunately, an ideal that can hardly be realized. Completely dispensing with packaging may work in a few areas, but unfortunately, it is often not feasible. Nevertheless, “zero waste” is now a household word to many and a relevant topic in connection with environmental protection and climate change.
Together to the goal
We at PURE DELIGHT are doing our best to remain at the cutting edge of research and innovation in this field, which is so important to all of us. Accordingly, we regularly check possible alternatives.
What you can do this in your everyday life to reduce packaging waste:
- Use shopping baskets or canvas bags instead of plastic bags (think also of an extra bag for loose fruit and vegetables)
- Use to-go cups made of bamboo, metal or ceramic (many coffee shops already reward this with a price reduction)
- Tupperware or bread tins or oilcloths instead of aluminium or cling film
- Wash out preserving and waste jars with screw caps or clamps and reuse them instead of throwing them away
PURE DELIGHT tip: Our soup glasses with screw cap are versatile and reusable. They are suitable as storage jars for e.g. rice or oatmeal, as storage jars for bathroom utensils such as cotton pads and soap, for taking food to the office or on trips, and much more.