In recent years, the question of waste has reached prominent positions in international debates. The concepts of soil conservation and environmental protection catch public attention more and more often. As a result, institutions have become more aware of the problem. Thus, separate collection systems were introduced and recycling has become a “keyword”.
In short, we are trying to stem the downstream process, but nobody takes into consideration the possibility of trying to solve the problem at root. Plastic and derivatives are redundant in all the major retailers; in stores, even for a simple gift we are flooded by packaging, whose volume is often vastly superior to that of the object it contains. Marketing operations that last just the time it takes to throw them away, immediately becoming a problem: waste disposal is difficult.
The same is true also for the packaging containing beverages, foods, and so on… it is not about stopping progress, but about defining the word itself. A return to old solutions might be a wise solution. The planet – at the center of Pope Francis’ encyclical Praised Be, in which he points out that things are intimately interconnected and imbalances in any given place cannot but create damages everywhere else – is not infinite.
For over half a century now, world production of plastics has been increasing one year after another. In 2013, it reached 299 million tons, which means a trend of +4% per year, and in 2014 it has probably exceeded the threshold of 300 million tons. Before such a scenario – Gaelle Gourmelon from the Worldwatch Institute points out -, “recovery and recycling are still insufficient”, and so the plastic ends up in landfills and oceans. In detail, according to the UN Environment Programme, between 22 and 43% of the plastic used in the world ends up in landfills. Between 10 and 20 million tons end up in the sea every year. According to estimations, 269 million tons of plastic are floating there at present. 56% of plastic collected for recycling ends up in China, where it is often processed in family farms with poor environmental production controls, such as the proper disposal of contaminants and waste water.
Original Unverpackt, for instance, appeared in Germany and at present can be found only in Berlin. This special supermarket sells only unpacked food. Customers bring their own containers and bags, buying and paying only what they buy and actually need. This supermarket does not sell major brands, but only foods coming from the same region and, in most cases, biological. Its founders, Sara Wolf and Milena Glimbovski, have created it thanks to fundraising and say that they owe a lot to the increasing demand for products and services that deal with sustainability.
The production of materials that are difficult to dispose of must be reduced whenever it is possible. Recycling is fine, because the rest would be used again, but it cannot become an excuse to increase the production of nice-looking waste. The direction we have taken is extremely dangerous. Who wants to live in a plastic world?