Since the 1950s, approximately eight billion tons of plastic have been produced and more than 300 million tons are made each year. Throughout the years, the environment has been facing the plastic crisis and the mainstream solution for decades has been recycling. But only 10 percent of all the plastic ever made has been recycled.
There are ongoing efforts to address this number but the rate of plastic consumption alone isn’t going to solve the plastic crisis.
It will take a global effort to strengthen solutions against plastic pollution. Aside from better recycling, the spotlight now falls on reducing plastic production by replacing it with alternative, more sustainable materials.
Paper packaging has caught the attention of many businesses and consumers. The material biodegrades rapidly compared to plastic and can be easily recycled. But since paper comes from trees, the source needs to be protected and used limitedly to make paper packaging a truly sustainable option.
Oxo-degradable materials, which are made from polymers, may also serve as another solution to the plastic crisis. These conventional plastics contain chemical additions that allow them to break down faster than regular plastic. But these leave behind microplastics that accumulate in the oceans. Microplastics can be consumed by marine life, enter food, and then people’s bodies.
The most viable option, to date, is compostable packaging, but it has yet to be certified in markets because it requires to degrade into non-toxic particles within a time and must be suitable for in-home composting bins or in industrial composting. If met, compostable packing can be used to fertilize depleting soils without leaving any waste behind.
For the compostable packaging industry to grow, it requires partners to join in the cause. Only by working together in a collective movement can humans hope to solve the problem of the plastic crisis.