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Then plastic can be climate smart

2019-10-03T08:49:21.174Z

Plastic packaging is always the planet's worst enemy - or? Sometimes it can be the opposite, says packaging researcher Helén Williams. - Plastic can actually be climate smart - if it reduces our food waste.



One of the most important tasks for a plastic packaging is to protect the food and extend the shelf life. If the packaging meets this, it can even be a benefit to the environment. The reason: Our big food waste.

Swedish households throw away 20-30 percent of the food we buy, compared to stores throwing 3-5 percent of the food in their assortment.

- I would say that the packaging that allows us to eat up what we buy to a greater extent is good, even if they are made of plastic, says Helén Williams.

Packaging that affects us

Roughly speaking, food accounts for 95 percent of the climate impact, while packaging accounts for 5 percent. Something we don't often think of, says Helén Williams.

She takes, for example, pre-sliced ​​cheese, where 11 grams of plastic is used for a package of 150 grams of cheese and compares it with a large cheese of 700 grams where 6 grams of plastic is used for the packaging.

- Eleven times more plastic is used for the finished sliced ​​cheese than for the large cheese. But when we look at the food waste, it is common for us to throw away the last of the big cheese. Because cheese has a great climate impact, it is enough that we throw two slices of the big cheese in order for the smaller cheese packaging to have the same climate impact.

Thinner plastic sometimes a bear service

The pressure has increased to use less plastic in the packaging. But if we pull it too far we can do the environment a bear service, says Helén Williams.

- We see that the focus is on making the packaging thinner and using as little plastic as possible. It sounds good, but some thin plastics are not as environmentally friendly as one might think.

Cheese packaging, for example, is often thin but made of several layers of different types of plastic, which means that they cannot be recycled.

- There are few grams of plastic, but since it is technically not recyclable, it is not very environmentally friendly, says Helén Williams, who instead emphasizes how important it is for the plastic to be recyclable and most preferably not made of fossil Raw.

The optical sorting machines in the recycling cannot read from black plastic. Photo: Hanna Franzén, TT

Another example of plastic that cannot be recycled is black plastic.

- It may look fresh but the sorting machines cannot identify what kind of plastic it is and therefore it burns the plastic instead.

Source: svt

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