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plastic to paper - sustainable, practical solutions

paper or plastic

The move from plastic to paper has been in the forefront of the news as the environmental concerns regarding the overuse of plastic has pushed corporations to source alternatives for their packaging and products.

The evidence over the years of the effects of plastic on the planet and especially sea life have caused major concern. While the sheer scale of the situation can be overwhelming, individuals and corporations are questioning the need for so much plastic.

Our friends at Two Sides Australia speak further about this in their article “Paper or Plastic – What is your Environmental Choice?”(1). Why is paper is the best choice? “Because paper is made from a renewable, sustainable resource and is the most recycled product in the world. Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material”. In addition, “Sustainably managed forests help to reduce CO2 levels, a tremendous asset when it comes to dealing with climate change. As young trees grow they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and paper continues to store carbon throughout its lifetime”. (1)

Any packaging or products made with plastic are being scrutinized. The sheer amount of plastic that we use on a daily basis is a cause for concern. There has been increased awareness especially in products such as grocery bags, straws, plates and cups, product packaging and toothbrushes – just to name a few.

Inside Retail recently reported that in July 2018 “Fortune reported that eight large companies were phasing out their use of plastic straws, including Starbucks (phasing out completely by 2020), Hyatt (switching to plastic alternatives, and only available on request), Hilton (switching to biodegradable alternatives), Marriott (removing from 60 UK hotels, offering paper straws on request), American Airlines (switching to biodegradable alternatives), Alaska Airlines, Seaworld (phasing out across 12 theme parks), and Royal Caribbean (removing across all 50 ships by 2019, offering paper straws on request)”.(2)

In Queensland recently, the government implemented a state-wide ban on single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags from 1 July 2018. They have recognised that the majority of the single use bags end up in landfill and around “2% of the bags are littered – which means up to 16 million bags are entering the environment in Queensland each year”(3).

While many retailers are now offering re-usable plastic bags, The National Retail Association explored this debate with Detmold Group’s General Manager of Marketing & Innovation, Mr Tom Lunn, to find out whether paper bags really do offer sustainable and practical solutions for retailers. (4). He continues to state that paper bags are the fastest growing choice for carry bags largely due to the changes in consumer perception, and retailers wanting to present a more ethically-minded brand, and that consumers were looking for a more natural or ecofriendly option. Paper bags are an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags as they can be recycled and composted, while leaving minimal residue in the environment. (4)

So we ask you – what's your environmental choice? What can you do to make a difference?

(1) https://twosidesna.org/US/paper-or-plastic-what-is-your-environmental-choice/
(2) https://www.insideretail.com.au/news/plastic-straws-a-ban-is-only-the-beginning-201810
(3) https://qldbagban.com.au/about-the-ban/
(4) https://qldbagban.com.au/paper-vs-plastic-whats-best-option-business/