The future of plastic packaging is a matter regulated by law due to the fact that the contamination produced by this type of material is reaching irreversible limits.
The worrisome ecological situation on the planet has led the authorities to rethink certain ingrained habits of the population. And to give greater value to these changes, they have made them mandatory through community and national regulations.
Why plastic packaging?
In its beginnings, plastic packaging appeared on the scene as a comfortable and economical solution to cover some needs. The packaging of products for mass food, phytosanitary and cosmetic consumption is usually made of plastic. For this reason, it quickly became a star industry due to its durability and lower costs.
Because of these reasons, soon the manufacture and use of plastics became widespread. More than half of the packaging is done this way. Packaging and the manufacture of plastic packaging have not stopped growing and at the moment production is greater than the ability to dispose of waste.
Currently, every year between 5 and 13 million tons of plastic reach the seas and oceans. Plastic islands are on the front page of newspapers and news headlines. Social movements crying out for greater care for the environment proliferate and dates of great changes are approaching.
Plastic packaging in Spain
In the international framework, 200 countries have joined in the 2030 Strategy which is a set of objectives designed to fight for greater sustainability in different areas.
In Spain, it has been translated into the drafting of the 2030 Agenda managed by the corresponding Secretary of State. It is a temporary journey that plans the arrival to different sustainability goals, setting the deadline for the year 2030 and includes points such as affordable and non-polluting energy or responsible production and consumption.
An example of these milestones is the future ban on various single-use plastic products (straws, cutlery, etc.). Plastic bags (which are already charged, by law, since 2018) will disappear from 2021. And this is just the beginning.
Solutions towards sustainability
The mass use of single-use plastic containers, as well as the impossibility of managing their waste, has produced a serious problem. But there are solutions that mean the starting line towards a greener world.
The industries producing plastics and its derivatives have begun to establish more sustainable practices in their day to day. They also base their investments on ESG (environmental and social responsibility) criteria. Processes move towards a cleaner world obtaining more eco-friendly results.
Certain ideas begin to emerge:
- Use of bio-based polymers.
- Promotion of recycling. Collaboration in the creation of companies and specialized plants for the treatment of plastic waste.
- Concern for design tending to carry out greener projects. The aim is to manufacture lighter articles (the amount of material to be used is less). There is also an inclination towards minimizing resources.
- Use of renewable types of energy in the production methods. The reduction of the environmental footprint becomes part of the process.
- Investment in R&D aimed at the possibility of creating 100% biodegradable plastics. Work is underway to create different alternatives such as bioplastics based on starch or PLA (polylactic acid).
The circular economy, unlike the linear one, supposes an added value for its elements.
Changing consumer habits should also focus on finding new profits for items to be discarded. Plastic packaging can be used for many different things apart from the destination for which they were designed.
New utilities can be found for products in two ways: by breaking down their materials (when possible) to create new ones, or by reusing that same product for other purposes, for example, a plastic pill container that transforms into a container for clips or thumbtacks.
Social, environmental and economic circumstances create a scenario in which companies like Triana have a lot to say. The challenge of sustainability can be won if governments, citizens and companies work together. The process has started.
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