Our organic food supplier WILD Organics discussed the topic of “packaging” in their latest newsletter. It is often difficult to judge these days which choice is the best one to make for our planet. Obvious is “the less the better”; but when you have to have it – which one is the best choice for our environment? WILD has done quite a bit of research and found the following:
“We have tended to assume that paper is better than plastic and that starch based plastics are better than oil based ones. Our preliminary research has indicated that this is not always the case and that we need to understand more before investing in this area.
It now seems that we would be much better to use oil based plastics and invite customers to return them in the boxes for recycling than to use plant, starch based plastics which require large amounts of energy to manufacture, compete for land with food and have the potential to disrupt traditional recycling streams.
As an example of why we have found it important to research and truly understand the whole context before knee-jerk “green initiatives” – last year we were trying to come up with a more environmentally acceptable alternative to normal plastic bags and were persuaded to invest in degradable plastic. Having invested in a large stock of printed bags we now find they are probably the worst option because:
there are serious questions over whether a product breaking down to methane, CO2 and water in landfill is desirable. There is a perfectly reasonable argument that by not breaking down they would constitute a form of carbon sequestration.
Most significantly they are non-recyclable and, as they inevitable get mixed with regular plastics, actually detract from the ability to sensibly recycle plastics.
Our research is suggesting that, counter intuitively, plain old oil based plastic bags returned to us in the boxes for recycling is certainly better than degradable bags, probably better than plant derived, starch based plastic and probably better in many instances than recycled paper bags.”
So the best we can do appears to be the 3R’s .. .REDUCE, RE-USE, RE-CYCLE.”
I will do my own research and will share with you what I find. Please share what you know regarding this topic!