Kent beach destroyed by plastic. Plastics and other detritus line the shore of the Thames Estuary.
Picture: theindependant. co.uk
A recent report from a cross-party parliamentary group reveals that consumer pressure to end plastic packaging in shops could actually be harming the environment.
I am not too sure about you, but this to me, sounds like a desperate attempt from the petrochemical industry to preserve the status quo and proclaim once more their supremacy, and that it is little we can do force an actual change.
By placing pressure on the government, plastic producing industries, conglomerates and large supermarkets, want to change the narrative. They want government agencies on their side, and to do so they use donations to political parties as leeway, virtually holding politicians hostage of their own policies. A practice that has been known for decades. Lobbying is, in fact, just that.
What the report claims:
I am not sure but this is what I think:
The report raises a really concerning question.
There is very little understanding about the terms biodegradable or compostable, and in no way means more environmental friendly. Worse, biodegradable plastic may not be recyclable and may still take years to decompose or not decompose at all the report finds. A biodegradable bag is not an apple core that you can discard on a countryside lane and careless consumers littering the environment believing that the bag will magically disappear are just truly ill-informed and participate --with their attitude-- to encourage industries to continue as is and nature to be saturated to the point of no return with trash and plastic that may take hundreds of year to degrade. It is though important to note that plastic breaks into smaller pieces and these pieces join forces with microbeads (found in cosmetics and other personal care products, and cleaning products), drifting on the oceans' surface and finding their way in fish. Plastic that we do consume every time we eat fish.
That is not all. A BBC program may have exposed a greater concern about the thousands of tons of plastic and microbeads in the oceans. Plastic may, in fact, enter marine mammalian mother's milk and poison their calf, and may affect many milk-producing aquatic animals , such as dolphins, manatees, orca, beluga whale and every species of whale. and seals, and all animals feeding on them (e.g. polar bears,
Papers have jumped to discredit such argument(1),(2),(3),(4!!!!) but the fact still remains and plastic is an ecological disaster and that because we do not see the damage in our everyday life in crowded cities that the danger is not there and visible. We just need to look for it. I am persuaded that you have seen, at least, a dozen of pictures or more showing how much plastic is found in the oceans, that you have watched several videos showing people helping animals trapped in plastic, plastic fishing nets, and decomposing animals where what remains is an astonishing amount of plastic pieces of some sort. It is easy to understand that birds may confuse floating plastic for a squid or a fish, a turtle munching on a plastic bag thinking it is a jelly fish, and the list go on.
One firm said: “Consumers are hugely confused about what bio-based, compostable and biodegradable mean. We are aware that [by switching from plastic to other materials] we may, in some cases, be increasing our carbon footprint.”
Another said: "If I could have a magic wand, I’d like to see more joined up, top-down government intervention… We would like to see government be braver."
The report says: “Over 80% of consumers think biodegradable or compostable plastic is environmentally friendly, but there is little understanding of what the terms mean and how the material should be dealt with. Our interviewees wanted a clearer approach to where it should be used and how it should be marked to avoid confusing consumers and potentially causing more problems.”
HAS ANYONE HEARD OF RENEWABLE ENERGY???!!!
Many countries are heavily relying on renewable energy and yet the UK is taking a categorical opposite stand by planning for more nuclear power plants to power homes and businesses.
Andrew Opie, from the British Retail Consortium, said: “All responsible retailers agree that climate change needs to be at the heart of their business, whether that is sourcing products or changing packaging. Plastic remains the most effective material in many circumstances - for example cucumbers wrapped in plastic last 14 days longer, reducing food waste. A coherent waste and resources strategy is one that prioritises reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy, not simply reducing plastic use.”
Action must be taken and it is not by proclaiming that plastic is vital to our modern life.
I believe governments and agencies have to wake up and be accountable. Period.
Last of all, governments are here to represent the people not the big money makers.
I don't know if you remember but in my days (hello, I am not that old!), we were going to the stores to return glass bottles, cans and other packaging. This was abandoned with councils collecting recycling waste. We know now how inefficient agencies are when faced with tons of recycling. Did you know that most of our recycling is sent to poorer countries such as Bangladesh. China has confirmed that it will not be taking on our waste anymore.
So quickly, is this really energy sufficient to send waste thousands and thousands of miles away, not taking action locally and, of course, best for the environment. Right?
I think not.
There is one thing I welcome:
Let's remember that Brexit has brought its own set of problems and not only is the UK at the mercy of the US, greedy conglomerates, and other controversial companies, such as Bayer now own Monsanto. Johnson has clearly stated that he will push for GMO farming and GMOs in our foods (Sign the petition now) and that he is more interested in making the UK a more powerful global player. This means that the environment is the last thought on his mind, Johnson, in the like of Trump, a global-warming denier. That is because they have a capitalist-driven mind and there is no money to be made by respecting nature.
Read articles on food waste to see where the UK stands when it comes to food waste and recycling, and more.(5)
Farms use trucks, crates and other containers to collect and transport fruits and vegs. Usually, the content is directed to a packaging to the farm processing hangard or to a cooperative. Usually, fruits and vegetables are inspected for sign of spoilage or removed because they do not fit the required criterium (e.g. shape, size, etc.), and then destroyed. At this stage, fruits and vegs are wrapped in plastic and sent locally or nationwide.
Plastic-wrapped foods are supposed to provide consumers with convenience, an alleged time-saving process; however, these foods are more expensive than buy-by-the-piece counterparts, have a sell-by-date, and may be destroyed even though the food is perfectly safe for consumption. Worse some pre-packaged foods have a display-by-date, which means that shops are destroying food on the basis that a product should not be seen on a store shelf passed a certain date.
If food is collected in crates, then it should be distributed in crates and sold on plastic-free aisles. There is no need to wrap food in plastic. The claim that a cucumber can stay fresh for 2 weeks when wrapped in plastic (so it must be wrapped), is outrageous. Who keeps a cucumber in a fridge for that long?
People have, in fact, been disconnected from food because food is imprisoned in cellophane and, as a result, people pick a bag of apples like they do a bag of potatoes or toilet paper, throwing it all in a cart, in their car, like it was not food. Worse of all, larger stores and supermarket employees do exactly the same, handling food in a way they handle about everything.
We need to reconnect with food and plastic is not the answer.
What are your thoughts on plastic, buying fruits and vegs from supermarkets, and what solutions would you suggest?
Bother and Sister, Anne et Olivier have created this blog to inspire you to care for the planet. They believe it is possible to be closer to nature and still live in a modern world.