According to PlasticsEurope and Statista, the amount of plastic produced globally in one year is approximately the same as the entire weight of humanity.
In the UK, 5 tonnes of plastic are used each year. Of this, only 29% is recycled.
When we think of where so much our plastic waste comes from, we have to look to our supermarkets. A trip down your supermarket means you inevitably leave with the job of peeling away outer layers of branded plastic, stickers, trays and more plastic before you can even get to your fruit. Yes, there is an element of protection and sorting of ingredients, but food packaging has become excessive beyond belief.
I love a good apple. But I have to pay a premium for my ‘ripe and ready’ Braeburn to be sat like royalty on a polystyrene tray inside a shiny cellophane wrapper. We can pretend this is for food safety and hygiene but if we are honest, the copious plastic is to afford companies enough surface area for their logos, slogans and colours.
Plastic bag usage in supermarkets dropped by 85% over an impressively short period when the 5p charge was introduced in England last year. It was far more effective than any documentary or advertising campaign. Surely we need a similar approach to food packaging, with a sharp and drastic move that shakes everyone into action. However, this time the onus should be on the retailer. They are in the best position to reduce the excess given they are the ones selling it to us day after day.
Drumroll… London’s first plastic-free shop called Bulk Market. Their successful crowd-fund is proof that Londoners see the environmental value of eliminating plastic from their shopping experience. Toilet roll wrapped in paper, loose fruit in brown bags, and bamboo toothbrushes. It’s only one small shop in East London but it’s still the beginning of a movement. It’s like rolling back the clock to a time of zero waste living – I guess our parents and grandparents were more progressive than we gave them credit for.