Single use plastic, for better or worse, has been a part of our lives for decades now. Cheap and convenient, it’s long been a material favoured by consumers for convenience. It’s only in recent years that we have actually begun to realise the damage it’s doing to our environment and oceans.
This month it’s Plastic Free July, a global campaign aiming to help people, businesses and organisations be a part of the solution to the plastic problem.
So, to mark the campaign, we have dedicated our blog this month to exploring the ways in which we intend to become more sustainable here at Meadow Foods over the next decade, and of course, revealing what we’ve done already too.
Over the last decade, Plastic Free July has helped to reduce 2.1 billion tonnes of waste and 300 million kgs of plastic consumption across the world.
Despite this, reducing waste remains one of the biggest environmental problems we face and that’s why we are doing all we can at Meadow Foods to reduce our own impact.
As part of our sustainability pledge, we’ve signed up to the Responsible Plastic Management program which helps us to limit our plastic use and reduce our carbon emissions as a result.
In addition, we’ve come up with a number of targets that will help us to drastically reduce our plastic waste by the end of the decade which we’ll explain in more detail.
Virgin plastic is, as the name suggests, a new and pure form of plastic resin that has been created without any recycled materials and is generally drawn from natural gas or crude oil.
Of course, both of these elements can be harmful to the environment and emit a large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s hardly surprising that the production process of this material is one of the biggest causes of carbon emissions.
The packaging sector is far and away the biggest user of this kind of material, using 47% of the total virgin plastic produced and given the environmental damage felt by this resource, it is clear that more must be done.
It’s because of this, that at Meadow Foods we are committed to reducing our use of virgin plastics in all our packaging by the end of the decade.
In Europe, more than 40 per cent of plastic packaging is recyclable but this means that there is a large amount that still cannot be reused and of course, this represents a real problem when it comes to achieving greater global sustainability.
When packaging is not recyclable it will end up being incinerated, a process which releases carbon into the atmosphere and is a concerning cause of emissions.
Not only this but, plastic waste from packaging can result in the creation of microplastics which can impact human and animal health if deposited into the environment, as well as cause pollution when they enter water sources.
The health and environmental implications of non-recyclable packaging highlight how damaging they can be and that’s why we are pledging at Meadow Foods to make sure our packaging will be fully recyclable by 2030.
At the end of its lifespan, it’s vital that we dispose of our used packaging in the most sustainable way. By recycling it.
Plastics are commonplace in packaging and when not recycled, if it’s not incinerated, then it generally ends up at landfill sites.
In fact, 91% of packaging waste meets this fate and given its complex chemical composition, plastic can be very difficult to break down and take years to decay, releasing toxins damaging local ecosystems.
Concerningly, up to the end of 2015, 75% of this plastic was discarded and not recycled, with much of this waste ending up in our oceans and causing damage to marine ecosystems.
These are alarming statistics and that’s why we’re doing all we can to achieve our goal of 100% recycling of our packaging at the end of its life within the next three years.
A wholesale reduction in our plastic usage means that we can significantly reduce the amount of carbon we emit both directly and indirectly.
With the help of the Responsible Plastic Management programme, we have been able to implement ways in which we can achieve the targets we’ve set and ensure that Meadow Foods operates in the most sustainable way.