The pushback on plastic: A food and beverage perspective

The use of plastic in the industry has also resulted in one of the most persistent sources of pollution on the environment

By Agatha Wong

Plastic plays an important role in the food and beverage industry: resistant, hygienic, and flexible, plastic can be found in various forms of packaging, from bottles and caps to protective films and containers. However, the use of plastic in the industry has also resulted in one of the most persistent sources of pollution on the environment – according to the United Nations Environmental Programme, approximately 36% of all plastics produced are used in packaging, including single-use plastic for food and beverage containers. Yet, only 85% ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste.

As a response to the issue of plastic waste and pollution, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste was launched to “focus on enhancing waste management capacity and capability by improving collection, sorting, processing, and recycling systems [of plastic], especially in underserved regions.”

“An important objective for the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is to find solution models to address the plastic waste challenge and support the transition to a circular economy for plastics. To match the challenge, we are looking for solutions that are economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally beneficial. The set of new metrics, highlighted in the 2022 Progress Report reflect the evolving approach that the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is taking to evaluate and measure the success of solutions and to scale and replicate what works,” explained Nicholas Kolesch, vice-presidents of projects, Alliance to End Plastic Waste

“In its short existence, the Alliance has learned a tremendous amount about the implementation of effective solutions. The good news is that solutions required are not technically complex in most cases, and there is a lot of innovation, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit available. However, what is challenging is manging diverse interests and ensuring everyone is pulling in the same direction towards what should be a common goal. Successful projects employ methodologies that align interests of local government, the private sector and the communities being served. Challenging projects tend to be those where local government is inconsistent and there is unwillingness of communities to change behaviour.”

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