Zerowaste Getting Around Packaging Waste


Packaging dominates the shopping basket. Image credit: samedayrubbishremoval.com.au

Zerowaste Netherlands recently released a video to demand different packaging policies from supermarkets. Indeed, even fruit and vegetables which come in their natural packaging, are for sale tightly wrapped in plastic films and foam containers- allegedly to protect products from bruising and to prolong their lifetime on the shelves.

Zerowaste activists went shopping, removed all plastic packaging after checking out at the counter, and left trolleys full of plastic waste at the entrance of the supermarket. Unsurprisingly, the volume of plastic waste was more than that of the products.

Plastic waste became a most pressing issue in the past year, especially after the decision of the Chinese government to ban the importation of 24 kinds of solid waste, including plastic containers. EU countries, which customarily shipped their waste to be recycled in China, were suddenly faced with their own growing amounts of waste and their limited recycling facilities. Last October, the European Parliament voted in favour of an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics, to take effect by 2021. Earlier this year, the launch of the UK Plastics Pact brought about a pledge of 40 major businesses to eradicate single-use plastics from packaging.

Everyday grocery shopping comes with sticky labels, plastic wraps and unnecessary packaging. Single cucumbers, pumpkins and aubergines are tightly sealed with plastic wraps with no apparent utility. Such practices can be avoided to a great extent, and alternatives are available. Researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed a natural chitosan-based film enhanced with anti-bacterial and antiviral properties of grapefruit seed extract, which is non-toxic, biodegradable and doubles shelf-life of food products.

Plastic-free laser labelling of vegetables has made its appearance in Swedish supermarkets. The list of zero-waste markets, where you can simply refill your container with the product of your choice, keeps growing. The video of ZeroWaste Netherlands comes to put pressure on supermarkets to reconsider their packaging policies and reduce plastic waste. In the meantime, we can already get fresh products from local producers in open markets, and insist using our own bags and containers.

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