By now, we have all heard that there is a plastic crisis. It is in our oceans and on our lands, creating greenhouse gas emissions and destroying our Earth’s natural life. Presently we have not taken enough action to combat this problem. At the current rate, the plastic waste going into our oceans will triple by 2040. Plastic production will double. But plastic is not bad. In fact, it is crucial to our everyday lives. It is human behaviour— how we produce, use, dispose of, and recycle plastics— that created the problem. It is our disposable culture and overconsumption, facilitated by society, government, and businesses, that have played a role in the plastic explosion.
Plastics have many practical applications that make everyday life possible. These applications are often overlooked. One example is its use in food preservation. If you bought a cucumber in plastic wrapping, it would be preserved for longer than if it wasn’t wrapped, thereby reducing food waste. While the plastic wrapping uses 5g of CO2 during production, the cucumber would release 20g more CO2 in food waste without the wrapper. Another example is its versatility. For example, ⅓ of materials used to build a car are plastic. This means that plastics are crucial for transitioning to an electric vehicle-based society.
We cannot avoid the use of plastic, but that is only half of the plastic problem. Throwaway culture is deeply ingrained in our society, and it was made possible by the invention of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are cheap and convenient; we can buy them and dispose of them when we want. There is also little accountability of both the consumer and producer, which means the whole of society is paying the price. So what is the solution? Worldwide governmental, producer, and consumer change. Governments and multinational organizations must create restrictions on the production and consumption of plastics, especially single-use plastics. Producers must come together and determine the most sustainable packaging to use depending on their field. Consumers must choose to reduce and reuse their plastic products. All three must be held accountable for the proper sorting and recycling of plastics.
We can still use plastic to our advantage. In a closed-loop system, the use of plastics can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste pollution, and lower costs compared to other materials. At SwapBox, we have recognized the importance of the sustainable consumption of plastics. Below, we show the SwapBox closed-loop system for our reusable plastic food packaging:
In our closed-loop system, consumers can get takeout in reusable plastic packaging for free. Businesses are provided with cost-competitive, high-quality packaging. SwapBoxes have undergone the required food-safe approval processes and received 100% of its migration certificates* for food contact from the EU. It is microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe and heat-proof up to 83 Celsius.
A worldwide change in regulation, production, and consumption is needed to combat the plastic crisis. Since we cannot get rid of plastic altogether, we must choose the right way to produce, use, and recycle it.
*to read more about migration certificates: