Co-working giant WeWork has recently announced that they will not be spending a penny more on products that are packaged using plastics. This includes everything from plastic cups to food containers, whether they are recyclable or not.
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) reports that around 40% of plastic is used in packaging and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes of packaging waste per year. Of this, around 1.7 million tonnes is from households with a large amount of it ending up in our oceans.
Why does that matter? For seabirds and larger marine creatures like turtles, dolphins and seals, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris or mistaking plastic for food.
A recent survey by Plymouth University found that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish. This can result in malnutrition or starvation for the fish and lead to plastic ingestion in humans too, which can obviously have a negative impact on our health.
For eco-conscious companies, going 100% recyclable isn’t good enough anymore because the material is still managing to find its way into the environment. However, there are now amazing alternatives which companies are starting to adopt. One of the most popular is Polylactic Acid (PLA). This bioplastic generally derives from animal-feed corn and can be used to replace PET which can be found in most drinks bottles and food packaging.
It is estimated that PET bottles will take around 450 years to decompose whereas PLA, due to its natural fibres, is fully compostable. However, it isn’t as simple as throwing it in the bin and letting the material break down on its own. You actually need the right composting conditions to break it down and this is something commercial composting facilities offer, although the drawback here is that they are only available regionally around the UK.
Nevertheless, this is a growing industry and we expect that it will soon be available to everyone, with the end goal of making products out of materials which are completely renewable, such as plants.
At EatFirst, we believe that all businesses have the responsibility to reduce plastic waste wherever possible as well as helping people live a happier, healthier life. That’s why by the end of 2019 we aim to make every bit of our packaging ‘plastic’ free. We will only use materials that are 100% compostable or biodegradable. If we all take this step in the right direction there will be more compostables in use, meaning we can work with the waste sector to extend compostable collections UK-wide.
By head chef Benn Hodges at gourmet meal delivery firm, EatFirst