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Fighting back against plastic pollution

3 min read
AUTHOR: Ross Carver-Carter
Flat lay with eco-friendly tableware - kraft paper food packaging on green background. Street food paper packaging, recyclable paperware and zero waste packaging concept. Mockup. Selective focus

Our world is inundated with plastic. It’s in our water, our soil and by extension, our stomachs. According to one commonly cited estimate, we consume around a credit card’s worth of micro-plastics each week. In fact, plastic is now so ubiquitous that it has left an indelible mark in the fossil record – leading some to argue we’re in a new geological era called the Anthropocene.

Highly toxic and a choking hazard, plastic pollution threatens the health of both people and wildlife. Between takeaway boxes, drinks bottles, shopping bags and product containers, the food and drink industry is a big culprit. Going forward, it’s vital that we develop more sustainable packaging solutions to tackle plastic pollution and already, there is exciting innovation underway.

The following podcast episodes shine a light on the crisis we’re facing and spotlight eco-packaging solutions making a difference. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Podcast: Microplastics – a very small big problem

A transparent fish filled with plastic micro-beads illustrating aquatic plastic pollution

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length, either worn down from larger plastic debris or intentionally small, such as the microbeads found in face wash. These man-made materials are ubiquitous, with an estimated 50-75 trillion of them floating in our oceans alone.

Inevitably, microplastics are finding their way into our food, meaning humans are consuming increasing amounts of these toxic chemicals. So, how worried should we be, for the planet’s health and our own? And how on earth do we go about eradicating something so tiny, yet so omnipresent?

That’s the question at the heart of this episode featuring Jeanette Rotchell, Professor of Aquatic Toxicology at the University of Hull and James Lofty, a PhD Research Student at the Cardiff University School of Engineering.

Podcast: Can recycling habits be transformed using nudge theory?

The earth with one side overrun by garbage bags, illustrating the issue of plastic pollution

Recorded in 2018, this podcast explores the effectiveness of plastic bottle Deposit Return Schemes in general and in particular, a scheme due to be introduced in the UK by 2025.

According to the proposed scheme, consumers will pay a little extra for a drink, but can then claim that extra payment back if they return the bottle for recycling at a “reverse vending machine”. Simple enough, but will it really persuade consumers to change their recycling habits, and what does the drinks industry make of the scheme?

The Food Matters Live Podcast welcomes Gavin Partington, Director General at the British Soft Drinks Association and Julian Hunt, Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability for Coca-Cola Europacific Partners.

Podcast: Will bioplastics be the sustainable plastic solution?

A close-up image of plastic bottles piled on top of each other

Bioplastics are polymers engineered from natural or renewable materials such as vegetable oils, sawdust and recycled food waste.

Hailed by some as the future of green packaging and labelled as a “false solution” by others, we dive into what they are and the impact they could have within the food and drink industry.

Joining us to investigate bioplastics are two experts in the field, David Newman, Executive Director at The Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) and Constance Isbrucker, Head of Environmental Affairs at European Bioplastics.

Article: Sustainable packaging solutions fighting the war on plastic

A coral reef surrounded by tropical fish with a plastic bag in the centre, illustrating aquatic plastic pollution

In this feature piece, Food Matters Live highlights the extent of plastic pollution and takes readers on a tour de force of the innovative packaging solutions making a difference. From seaweed-derived takeaway boxes to shopping bags made from cassava root, glimpse the breakthroughs displacing plastic for the sake of people and the planet.

Explore research developments, market trends and ingredient innovation across the nutritional world at the Inspiring Nutrition event, this November.