Consumers in the UK generate 11 billion pieces of packaging waste per year, citizens of Germany generate 770 tonnes of packaging waste per day through to-go food and drink packaging. The municipal costs of disposing of single-use plastic products such as cups/coffee cups, carrier bags and even cigarette butts reach half a billion euros per year (not counting pizza boxes and aluminum trays).
Global awareness of these problems is increasing and there is a growing need for truly sustainable alternatives.
A lot of work is being done on new obligations related to reusable packaging. For example, in Germany, from January 2023, the multi-way offer obligation is in force and customers can request reusable packaging for their orders.
If you want to take your food and drinks to-go, restaurants, cafes, bistros, canteens, supermarkets, gas stations, catering companies (all catering establishments with more than five employees) are obliged to offer you reusable packaging regardless of the size of your order, which will to replace single-use packaging. At the same time, the product in reusable packaging shouldn’t be more expensive than it would be in disposable packaging, but it is allowed to issue reusable packaging with a deposit that is given back upon return. It is possible in some cases to buy a reusable cup in one place and return it in another or even in another city.
Certain fast food chains have already announced the offer of their own reusable systems with a deposit of a few euros for drinks and ice creams, while hamburgers will continue to be sold in disposable boxes and paper. Certain chains are already working with reusable system suppliers and customers will be able to return their reusable cups.
According to estimates, each reusable cup should replace up to a thousand disposable cups during its lifetime.
There is no complete ban on single-use packaging yet… In 2027, the EU Commission will review the bans, and the list of bans should be extended then. An EU-level ban has so far been out of the question for products such as disposable drinking cups, as there are currently no environmentally friendly alternatives for them.
However, work is being done to discover environmentally friendly alternatives!
Most people know how delicious it is to eat a good burger, fries or nuggets, but do you know how bad their packaging affects the environment?
These products often come wrapped in oil-resistant plastic. Such plastic contributes to plastic pollution, and in addition, in order to prevent food from sticking to the packaging, it can be coated with chemicals harmful to the environment, such as perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs), which accumulate both in the environment and in the human body.
Researchers have found a solution in the sea, soon the solution to the problem could be – seaweed.
Australian researchers have teamed up with a German biomaterials developer to make a new discovery that brings scientists one step closer to sustainable alternatives. So they created a biopolymer based on seaweed that can be recycled like paper. The researchers report that the structure of the seaweed is similar to the natural fibers used to make paper, and with certain simple changes, the seaweed’s resistance to oil increases, which does not affect the biodegradability or recyclability of the coated paper.
Thumbs up for this innovation!
It is completely natural, biodegradable and usable for various packaging. This environmentally safe product could be great news for the environment in which plastic pollution would be reduced, greenhouse gases would be reduced, and the natural restoration of the marine environment would be encouraged and coastal erosion mitigated. 👍🏼
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