Single-use plastic: the ever-growing strain

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There are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans, with an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws are made every year in the US and a single plastic straw can take 200 years to biodegrade.

Plastic is incredibly cheap to manufacture. But because we make so much of it, for so many uses, it has become a high-profile environmental issue – even the biggest brand names are doing their bit to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic.

In light of the steps being taken to reduce our plastic footprint, Rajapack, Europe’s number 1 packaging supplier, has been looking into our plastic use and what small measures people can take to limit/ reduce their plastic footprint on the environment. Along with offering their own eco-friendly protective packaging, Rajapack have created a guide on our plastic use to highlight just how much of a lasting imprint plastic has on the planet.

The ‘worst’ culprits

  • Microplastics: Whilst we may be aware “microbeads” used in scrubs, cleansing products and toothpaste, have now been banned, the threat of microplastics is still very much there. All plastic in our oceans will eventually disintegrate into microplastic. These tiny plastic particles eventually end up on our dinner plates. A study in 2015, which attempted to measure the amount of microplastics in the ocean estimated that the number of particles in the ocean ranged from 15 to 51 trillion pieces, weighing between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tonnes. If there were plastic microbeads present during The Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, they would still be here today.
  •  Plastic shopping bags: A daily essential that has a longer impact than its short-term use. Since the 5p bag charge was introduced in the UK, on 5th October 2015, sales in the ‘big seven’ supermarkets are down by 86% – a decrease of nearly 300 million bags – and has continued to fall.
  • Plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons.Whilst France passed a law in 2016 to ban plastic cutlery and plates – the law will not come into effect until 2020. In May 2018, the European Commission moved to get a ban in place for the items where alternatives to plastic are already available.

How perception has changed

In recent years, brands in a multitude of sectors – food, retail and beauty to name a few – have been taking measures to ensure that the amount of single-use plastics used daily, is reduced. From microbeads to plastic straws, steps are being taken to ensure that packaging is recyclable, not harmful for the environment, or is removed altogether.

Do your bit and swap your daily plastics

Plastic is something that gets taken for granted and is often used without a second thought, whilst it is difficult to avoid all plastic you can limit the amount of single-use plastics you use.

You can view what easy switches you can make every day, and just how much impact this will have on the environment here.

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