Recently, the war on plastic waste made a huge step in the right direction! It was reported by the BBC that four of the major supermarkets will stop using black plastic in their products by the end of the year! This is fantastic news.
Plastic manufacturers only make black and dark coloured plastics, such as meat plates, chocolate trays and microwave meal containers, because it is cheap and used as a marketing ploy to make the food look nicer. See the article in The Guardian.
The problem is that black coloured plastic cannot be recycled. The sorting machines cannot identify it, so it ends up in landfill, or our oceans.
As a consumer, it is hard to escape the contradictions within the plastics industry. There are undeniable benefits of plastics as a resource. Plastics are strong, lightweight, efficient in transportation and increase food life. However, its inability to decompose, and the recycling limitations imposed on us through the plastics supply chain, big brands and our local waste management schemes, results in plastic filling our landfill sites, polluting our land, our water and our air. While some plastics can be recycled, many types of plastic can’t, and it’s often not clear to the consumer who has to choose whether it goes in the recycling bag or in the general waste bag.
Since the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary, there has been an increased awareness of how plastic waste is having a dire effect on the World’s natural habitat, animals and marine litter. We, as consumers, have the power to make the markets sustainable, we just need to make the right choices, so the manufacturers listen. A big part of this is the power not to buy.
This proactive action by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda to follow Morrison’s lead in declaring a ban on black plastics by the end of the year will stop billions of unnecessary black plastic waste reaching landfill. Iceland, Aldi, Co-Op, and Marks and Spencer have all made announcements to follow suit.