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Opinion Piece: Going Zero Plastic

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Co-working giant WeWork have recently announced that they will not be spending a penny more on products that are packaged using plastics. This includes everything from their plastic cups to the containers their food that they get delivered in. Don’t worry, if you work there, you’re still allowed to bring your trusty Tupperware, it’s only if WeWork are paying it’s not.

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) claim that around 40% of plastic is used in packaging and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes per year of packaging waste. Of this, around 1.7 million tonnes is from households with a large amount of it ending up in our oceans.

Why does that matter? For sea birds and larger marine creatures like turtles, dolphins and seals, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food.

A recent survey by Plymouth University found that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish.This can result in malnutrition or starvation for the fish, and lead to plastic ingestion in humans too, which is obviously not good.

Now, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are alternatives hitting the market! One of the most popular is Polylactic Acid (PLA). This bioplastic generally derives from animal-feed corn and can be used to replace PET which can be found in most drinks bottles and food packaging.

It is estimated that PET bottles will take around 450 years to decompose whereas PLA, due to its natural fibres, is fully compostable. However, it isn't as simple as throwing it in the bin and letting the material break down on its own. You actually need the right composting conditions to break it down and this is something commercial composting facilities offer, the drawback here is that they are only regionally available around the UK.

Nevertheless, this is a growing industry and we expect that it will soon be available to everyone, but the point really is that you are making a product of something (plants) that is totally renewable.

At EatFirst, we believe that all businesses have the responsibility to reduce plastic waste wherever possible as well as help people live a happier, healthier life. That’s why over the next few months we’re looking to try and make every bit of our packaging ‘plastic’ free. We will only use materials that are 100% compostable or biodegradable because it has to start somewhere right. If we all take this step in the right direction there will be more compostables in use, meaning we can work with the waste sector to extend compostable collections UK-wide.

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