Many companies come up with false solutions, so that they can continue with “business as usual”.
Read more about false solutions and things that SHOULD happen.
Companies and governments invest recycling with us as THE solution. Some of the plastic waste that citizens collect separately ends up in countries such as Malaysia or – even within the EU – can end up in illegal landfills. There is hardly any recycling. Since China closed its doors to the import of waste in plastic in 2018, the problems surrounding reuse have been mounting. The main causes: the amount of plastic waste continues to increase, there is too little recycling capacity and there is no control over trade. Plastic therefore largely disappears in landfills or in the environment. The fact that something is recyclable does not mean that it is also recycled. More than 90% of all produced plastic has never been recycled. If plastic is recycled, it is usually “downcycled”. It is always converted into a product of lower quality, until it disappears in the incinerator.
Fake solution: Paper
McDonalds replacing its plastic straws, clothing stores that give you a paper bag instead of a plastic bag; more and more companies are replacing their disposable plastic products with paper. There is not nearly enough recycled paper to meet the enormous demand. And so, a lot of forest is cut worldwide for the production of packaging, tissues and toilet paper. If companies replace their plastic packaging with paper, the pressure on our forests will increase even further.
Fake solution: Bioplastic
Think of the crackling bags around the organic bell pepper that says it is compostable, or the “plant bottle” from Coca-Cola. But what exactly is bioplastic? Bioplastics are plastics made from natural raw materials, such as maize, while “ordinary” plastics are made from oil. And some of those bioplastics are compostable. But even compostable bioplastics only breaks down under the right (industrial) conditions. In nature, bioplastic behaves just like “ordinary plastic”. A turtle chokes on it just as well.
So, what should be done?
The underlying problem is our throwaway culture. We use plastic packaging for a few seconds, while it is made to last for hundreds of years. If we really want to solve this problem, we have to look differently at how we get and use products. Companies play a crucial role in this. They maintain the throwaway culture by focusing on the above false solutions. While the real solution is at hand: packaging that is refillable or reusable