With the awareness of climate change the impact that plastic pollution has on the environment has gained momentum on various levels.
In 1990 “a new generation of conservation-conscious, environmentally active school children” referred to by TIME magazine as the eco-kids were seen as maybe the best hope for the cause of preservation. “These youngsters have become convinced that they were put on the planet for the express purpose of saving it” as Philip Elmer-DeWitt observed. Almost 30 years later the sense to save the planet remains strong and the urgency to get things done has increased. Forty to thirty years ago the feeling was we CAN make a change, but now it is we HAVE to make a change.
Last year Greta Thunberg a 16 year old climate change activist started a movement on a weekly basis to raise the awareness of climate change. Inspired by Greta other youth groups in different countries started with the awareness of climate change. As a result the global movement called Youth Strike 4 Climate gained momentum. This was the first time that Britain had a nationwide school strike on climate issues. In 2018 South African schools recycled 2.2 million glass bottles and jars.
The #trashtag challenge as a social media challenge developed due to the awareness of the dire state of beaches, rivers and parks because of plastic pollution. This challenge was aimed at “bored teens” and ordinary citizens to clean up their local areas by posting a before and after image on social media.
The protection of the environment is a universal responsibility and worldwide countries are implementing policies and legislations to save our planet. Traditional themes like reducing air pollution are still important but recently protecting the environment as a whole has taken on a global dimension.
In March 2019 the EU lawmakers voted to place a ban on 10 single-use plastic items by 2021. The process of reducing other single-use plastic items not listed is on the onus of the EU countries to choose their own methods. By 2029 in the EU countries 90% of beverage bottles must be collected and recycled. The UK announced a 25 year plan to improve the environment.
In many other countries around the world a ban on single-use plastic items has been implemented. Coupled with the stricter use of single-use plastic is the improvement of recycling facilities, being more resource efficient and using alternatives. These changes reduce the negative impact of plastic pollution.
Latin American and Caribbean countries are also aware of plastic pollution and have put national bans in place against single-use plastics. In Greece amongst the fishermen a project was started in 2018 with 10 boats to clean up the ocean. Within two and half month 5000kg of waste was collected of which 84% was plastic. The fishermen involved receive a reward of 200 Euros per boat. The project is in partnership with a recycling company in the Netherlands that creates bracelets, socks and carpets from discarded nets.
Cities, Companies and Consumers
The awareness of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment has filtered down to cities by changing legislations. In June 2018, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil declared a war on straws. Pinamar, Argentina implemented a ban on the sale of plastic bags. In South Africa we have plastic-free grocery stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Students on campus are also aware of climate change and in particular the use of single-use plastic items. In August 2018 University College Cork in Ireland the students started with a petition to make the University Single-use plastic free. One of the projects to reduce plastic waste was the opening of Ireland’s first plastic free café at University College Cork.
Giant fast food companies like McDonalds and Starbucks have also felt the pressure to change food packaging to enviro friendly alternatives. Parley for the Oceans has partnered with Adidas to manufacturer running shoes from the plastic debris collected from the oceans, a wonderful example of upcycling. In 2017 1 million Parley shoes were produced.
“ Environmentalism for a long time, was all about protest, all about warning. It was not fast
enough to bring the economy to change. We will not be able to convince everybody on this
planet by presenting scientific evidence. We have to find a catalyst like these products that
are symbols of change” quoted by Cyrill Gutsch (Founder of Parley for the Oceans)
Consumers are putting pressure on brands and retailers to show their social responsibility by
reducing their carbon footprint.
Multi-cup Solutions, as a well-established food and beverage packaging supplier in the South African market, made the responsible decision to add a new range of environmentally friendly products to their extensive product list. As an alternative to the mainstream packaging Multi-cup Solutions offers a selection of PLA clear cups with lids, paper cups with PLA sip lids and bagasse meal boxes. Multi-cup Solutions noted the high demand for paper straws in the market place and has added white and black wrapped paper straws in different sizes to the stock range.
At Multi-cup Solutions we support “Earth Day” by offering environmentally friendly packaging products in order to contribute to creating a more sustainable and healthy future for our planet.
For more information on our full range of recyclable and enviro friendly food and beverage
packaging contact us on 011 058 4200.