We use plastics constantly. Whether it’s to preserve food, provide insulation or to supply the medical industry with sterile, durable implements; there are plenty of positives in using plastic materials. However, there are also a vast amount of disposable plastics that we use everyday that find their way into the ecosystem, causing harm to the environment.
With food waste being a major cause of plastic waste, there has been a push to make the general public aware of the effects such materials can have. So in an effort to vastly reduce the amount of plastics that find their way in the environment, governments and organisations have been putting in place measures and recommendations. One such UK organisation that is leading the way is WRAP.
The Plastics Found In Food Waste That Need Eliminating
The ‘Waste & Resources Action Programme’ (WRAP) is a registered charity that works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy by helping them to reduce waste. Counting some of the UK’s largest companies as members, WRAP works with them to develop sustainable products and offers advice on how to use their resources efficiently – one of these is their UK Plastics Pact.
In their ‘Eliminating Problem Plastics’ report , WRAP outlined their strategy for reducing plastic food waste to 0%. Their members will be required to find (and put into practice) solutions to replace banned items and to ensure that the target of removing ALL problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging is achieved by 2025.
The 2020 target is the starting point. Initiated by new legislation from the UK Government , from April 2020, cotton buds with plastic stems, plastic stirrers and plastic straws are to be banned. Added to this, WRAP have researched several other disposal plastics that have a major impact on the environment – and yet could be easily eliminated. As a result, the Pact agreed with their members also included the reduction and eventual exclusion of the following items:
- Disposable plastic cutlery.
- All polystyrene packaging.
- Oxo-degradables (that break down to create microplastics).
- PVC packaging.
- Disposable plastic plates and bowls.
Members have been instructed that the substitution of materials cannot cause negative environmental impacts, nor can packaging solutions increase food waste. The Pact has several specific targets for members to ensure that all of their plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or degradable.
How Can My Food Business Help?
Whilst, for the sheer output of products they produce, many big-name businesses have been targeted by WRAP’s programme – all businesses in the food production industry can help to contribute to the recycling of plastics, no matter their size.
As part of their guidance, WRAP has classified which plastics can be recycled – as well as addressing which types of materials are the best to use in the design of packaging. On the subject of food waste specifically, WRAP point out that takeaway trays, plastic bottles and other forms of rigid plastic packaging are extremely difficult to recycle. This is because they are made from polymers that are not collected in any great numbers or they are produced in colours that cannot be detected by the near-infrared sensors in an MRF (Materials Recovery Facility). Without being able to be recycled, such materials will eventually find themselves placed into the environment around us – taking some 500 years to decompose.
Therefore, WRAP recommends that the best packaging for food producers to use are clear Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials. Aside from being the easiest plastic material to recycle, the other benefits of PET packaging include:
- Chemical resistance . PET does not react with water or food; making it ideal to use for packaging intended for consumables.
- Strength-to-weight ratio . Despite being lightweight, PET displays surprisingly robust qualities.
- Shatterproof . PET does not break or fracture; in fact, it is often used as a glass replacement in window displays.
In terms of labelling on food products, the guidance advises that they cover less than 40% of the packaging, as labels do not commonly get recycled.
If you operate your own food business; whether you’re a producer, seeking a bulk tankering cleaning service or you’re the operator of a restaurant or takeaway that needs to take a more proactive approach in the recycling of your plastic waste; the expert waste management team here at BKP can help.
Get In Touch With BKP For Expert Waste Management Advice
If you would like to learn more about how your business can reduce the amount of plastic food waste it produces or if you have any questions to ask about waste disposal in general, we are on hand to help. Why not give us a call today on 0800 376 5004 or send any e-mail enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org