The damage that plastic is doing to our environment has started to receive more coverage. A study at the Plymouth University reported that plastic was found in a third of UK caught fish, while another study at Ghent University in Belgium stated that people who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year.
These issues have started to change the publicâs opinion on plastic and how they shop. For example, a Populus poll in 2017 showed that four in five people are concerned about the amount of plastic packaging thrown away in the UK. However, as Miguel Campos, export sales manager at leading European packaging manufacturer, Advanta, states â manufacturers, particularly those in the food sector, must move away from using plastic packaging and stop this problem at its source.
Regardless of how much is invested in Britainâs recycling infrastructure, virtually all plastic packaging will reach landfill or the bottom of the ocean sooner or later. Once there, it will remain on the earth for centuries, said Andy Clarke, former CEO of ASDA.
Instead of investing billions into increasing the amount of recycled plastic supermarkets use, a better idea would be to take all plastic off the shelves. Clarke and many campaigners, like those behind A Plastic Planet, are campaigning for supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles to cater for customer demand.
There are plenty of alternatives to plastic, including plant-based bio-plastics, glass, and aluminium. Recycling aluminium actually takes 95% less energy than producing it from its raw materials. It also offers storage and cooking benefits, including being heat resistant to over 400oC and not being affected by extreme freezing.
Despite more than a decade of concerted supermarket action on this issue, globally we are still dumping in excess of eight million tonnes of plastic in the ocean each year, said Clarke.
It is hoped that shows like The Blue Planet II will make consumers demand more from their food manufacturers to change the way they package their food. However, the ownership to this issues sits firmly with manufacturers who should eliminate plastic packaging.