The Plastic Packaging Problem

why plastic is bad for the planet

The Facts

If you are considering switching from plastic packaging for your business, you’re helping solve one of the most significant environmental issues facing our planet.

Why is it such a problem?

Here are some quick facts about global plastic consumption to break it down for you:

  • Over 500 billion plastic bottles are used every year.
  • 2 million plastic bags are used every minute.
  • Plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.
  • The average person eats around 70,000 microplastics each year.
  • Most of the plastic that exists today was made in the last decade.
  • 95% of plastic packaging is discarded after a single-use.

    Oil and Plastic

    Making matters worse, two-thirds of crude oil demand from the petrochemical sector is for plastics.

    That’s right, plastic pollution spells double trouble for the environment. While it litters our lands, fills our oceans and contaminates our food chains, the production of plastic is also heavily reliant on fossil fuels responsible for accelerating climate change.

    Why do we use plastic?

    The key reason we use plastic is because it’s really convenient. 

    From straws to containers to bags, plastic allows us to protect food, medicine and other products from contamination and germs when displayed and handled.

    But here’s the punchline: we make so many things that don't require the longevity that plastic has – we don't need a straw that we will use to sip one drink that will stay in the environment forever.

    Indeed, the sad reality of plastic production is that once it comes into existence it sticks around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

    Plastic Packaging

    So, how much does packaging contribute to this issue?

    Reliable recent estimates suggest that plastic packaging accounts for as much as 40 percent of the overall plastic consumption every year.

    Only about 9% of this plastic is recycled, while a third is left in fragile ecosystems, and roughly 40% ends up in landfill.

     

    plastic-pollution-illustration-heapsgoodpackaging

    The Future

    Science is giving us new solutions to the plastic packaging problem, however.

    There are now substitutes for plastic that weren’t available 10 years ago. From compostable packaging like our very own HeapsGood eco-mailers, to a variety of innovative products that will replace plastic across various categories, change is on the horizon.

    Make no mistake, we are on the forefront of a revolution against plastic – and not a moment too soon. Plastics will be the main ingredients of our grandchildren’s recipes, unless we act now.

     

    References

    Parker, L (2019). ‘The World’s Plastic Pollution Crisis Explained’. National Geographic. View here.

    Sonkkia, C (2019). ‘Biodegradable versus compostable – knowing your eco-plastics’. CSIRO. View here.

    Wildlife & Environmental Conservation Organisation (2020). ‘Don’t Let Nature Go to Waste’. View here

    Science Daily (2017), 'More than 8.3 billion tons of plastic made: most has now been discarded'. View here.