Each year, around ten million tons of plastic enter the oceans. Some analysis claims that, if action is not taken, there could be more plastic, by weight, than fish by 2050.
In response to such jaw-dropping statistics, 2021 saw single-use plastics banned across the state of Queensland. This move has been echoed across many governments across the country and around the planet, in a move to reduce environmental plastic waste. But plastic still has a place in the fast-moving hospitality industry and in our society… it kind of has to.
Even though we’d like to see a future free of harmful plastics it will remain a permanent fixture in the hospitality and catering industry. For example the plastics used in vacuum sealing – with no alternative present, these plastics are essential in ensuring goods are shipped and stored safely and hygienically across the globe. For big chain restaurants using vacuum sealing helps to ensure every one of their outlets is delivering the same trustworthy and tasty product. Other examples of plastics that remain essential are plastics used in healthcare, such as a wide variety of PPE, sanitary products and plastic water bottles.
But if these plastics remain inevitable in our world has the plight of green change gone to waste? The Petrochemical industry has taken notice and from 1990 to 2016, the European chemicals industry cut its GHG emissions by 60.5% while increasing its production by 85%. Chemical sector emissions of CO2 are set to decline by 45% by 2050 under a ‘clean technology scenario’, this means that the process used to produce the plastics will become cleaner.
These companies are beginning to set their sights on producing cleaner plastics – future regulations will encourage the production of polymers with improved recyclable qualities that would make it easier to put used plastics back into our economy and invest in cutting the industry’s carbon footprint. We can even see this today in our sister company PacFood’s biodegradable piping bags, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to something that has often been a single-use plastic.
The development of efficient anti-plastic pollution measures and the implementation of greater regulatory incentives for the petrochemicals sector is a complicated process that necessitates a worldwide, systems-level approach. Only by prioritising our activities and policies for the greatest long-term environmental goodwill, we may be able to achieve sustainability, a circular economy, and a zero-emissions aim.