Every single day we see and hear on the news about the waste problem. The public opinion is that plastic causes this environmental nightmare that we’re facing and that paper packaging is the solution. However, the bold question is: is replacing plastic by paper really the best way to go?

Tekst: Anton Filippo | Beeld: Unsplash

Less plastic and more paper/pulp solutions…?

For many of us the answer to clear the plastic garbage dump that we created together is to replace plastic with paper and pulp solutions. LBP is faced with this issue, too, and receives questions on this subject almost every single day. We have concluded that carton/paper/pulp can’t be considered to be the golden egg in our struggle to find the answer. Even bolder: we truly believe that our branche can’t do without plastic…

Why do we still pack in plastic?

LBP uses plastic packing materials for multiple reasons. Firstly because of its price. It is still cheaper for our clients, for the retailers and thus for the consumer to have fruit packed in plastic. Secondly, to keep fruit more fresh for a longer period. Moreover, thirdly, but not less important: plastic is recyclable.

How do ‘friendly’ solutions still threaten the environment?

We have considered several solutions for the plastic ‘problem’ in the past years, such as carton and paper as well as organic foil. We know that for many this sounds like music to their ears. However, when you look at this solution, one always comes back to the same problem: deforestation. Currently 1 out of 3 trees are used for the production of paper and wood pulp. Every 2 seconds a field the size of a normal football field disappears to make space for agricultural land. The deforestation and combustion releases carbon that, when contaminated with oxygen, creates CO2. Hence, increases the ‘greenhouse-effect’, hence accelerates global warming.

What if everybody puts more effort in recycling?

It is clear and goes without saying that we need to join forces to work towards a solution.

Such as: why do we not start with recycling of books, newspapers, toilet paper, retailers brochures you name it… Or what about the carton boxes in which we traditionally pack our fruit? This is already partly recycled but with more focus there is definitely more. If we want to use more paper in our packing, why not make it out of paper that we’ve used before? The same for plastic. I would say, even more so. It requires discipline of the consumers, the retailers but also the other links in the chain to start recycling plastic on a much larger scale.

How should the government help stimulate recycling?

A big step forward will be to have an incentive from the government. For example the payment of deposits for returning used plastic or a cost free delivery of plastic waste to recycling places. All of these ideas - and I’m sure there are a lot of creative ideas out there! - will benefit. We will not be able to avoid plastic in the chain so we might as well use it more than once in a smart way.

In my humble opinion…

Replacing plastic with paper is not the solution; in my opinion that is pulp fiction. Above all, the solution requires a change in our behaviour. Together we need to find a solution for the garbage dump that we have created. Recycle discipline and positive incentives should lead us the way forward in our attempt to change the world.

How do we
the world?

I invite you, my colleagues and partners all over the world, to share your opinions and ideas with me in this global discussion. So I ask you: where do you stand in this challenge? How does your country address this matter? What is your company's solution to the plastic pile? We love to hear your opinion and share different views from the field in our next Fruiticle.

My opinion/ideas can be shared in the next Fruiticle