BALANCE OF PERSPECTIVES ON DISPOSABLE PACKAGING

Considering the role and benefits of the disposable packaging goods and bringing new perspectives to the discussions on revision of the Packaging Waste Directive are of great importance.

Some of the suggestions to limit the usage of single use disposable packaging are unrealistic and inapplicable. These suggestions even don’t have anything to do with the role and the advantages of the packaging goods. Here are a couple of ideas that can be evaluated on this subject.

Benefits of Single Use Packaging to Daily Life

Let’s start with this one – if packaging goods would have been a completely new invention today for preventing the waste in food and beverages, probably it would be the most valuable and innovative invention after the internet and iPhone! Food packaging goods had provided huge benefits to people like seriously decreasing the waste in food chain and immeasurably increasing the food hygiene.

Because of its use in every corner of our daily life, maybe disposable packaging goods cannot attract enough attention when the subject is wastage. It won’t be wrong if we say that especially food and beverage packaging made it possible for us to live in 21th century. Unfairly banning the single use packages would be a direct intervention to people’s lives.

Besides reducing the wastage in food chain, packages keep food in hygienic conditions and provide customers’ safety, playing a crucial role in ensuring public health. The actual reason why many packages are single use is this.

In many areas of use, we don’t even have any alternatives. Like the drug packages or the packages of the equipment used in clinical or dental operations, some packages should be single use.

Sometimes single use packs can be the best way to keep the integrity and safety of the products and to reduce the general effects of them on the environment in areas like transport and logistics.

Recycling Technologies and Reusage

Most of the single use packs can be recycled. Innovative waste separation technologies are developed especially for more complicated and very thin packaging products. In recent years pack/product ratio seriously decreased and according to the current European data, packaging usage per person decreases while GDP increases.

Of course sometimes reusable packs can be a more sensible choice and may become a more valuable solution. So, local beverage producers may prefer to distribute their products with returnable bottles. These packages may even have some effects on the environment because they need water, chemical materials and energy to be cleaned and be ready for reuse. Therefore, we must be balanced in discussing this issue.

Using the most suitable pack for the related area, collecting the package wastes and doing the best for improving the process for recycling and reusing are very crucial. More than banning the packaging products just because they are single use, this is the essence of the circular economy model.

Environmental Effects

Societies are slowly realizing that they should look at the big picture – packaging goods are helping to reduce the effect of products on the environment.

European Commission is carrying out initiatives to improve new methods for evaluating the environmental effects of the products. According to the conclusion, the packaging goods have much less negative effect to environment, compared with the product packed inside. Of course we should reduce the environmental impacts of all relevant elements, not just a single factor. Because we should take a balanced approach.

Packaging products constitute a small part of the general waste issue that we face in Europe. Packaging manufacturers and users achieved noticeable things in recent years for improving the materials used in packaging production. This situation will keep up as long as the technical and economical conditions allow, without any compromise from the most crucial things for the general integrity of the product like hygiene, customer safety and package functionality.

One of the main earnings obtained with the help of The Directive of Packaging Goods and Package Waste, is that all kind of packaging goods and packed products can enter the market and can move freely in the market, as long as the requirements specified in the directive are met. This is a very important earning.

Completing the Recycling Cycle

It would create a big risk that may damage the integrity of the market banning some packaging types and usage of some certain materials in the EU and at national level, or stipulating some certain packaging types and materials. Instead of that, we should focus on improving the circular economy across Europe with completing the plastic recycling cycle than removing the cycled products.

Disposable Packaging
Plastic recycling process, plastic scrap collecting and grading line

The inappropriate behaviour of society done on purpose or out of carelessness and the missing points in the waste management system can only create new wastage. It would be a great mistake to think that garbage formation is inevitable. Also while the number of the people on the run increases, the risk for garbage formation is also increasing. Preventing the garbage formation is under responsibility of each level of the society from the packaging manufacturers to the consumers.

However preventing the single use products like the packaging goods wouldn’t end people’s inappropriate behaviours or the missing points in garbage management. Also, it won’t be right to give the impression that consumers have no responsibility in this regard with charging all the blame to packaging manufacturers and users.

Social Responsibilities, Bio Based Materials

Within the framework of circular economy efforts, we should educate the society about correctly disposal of the used products that goes to garbage, provide effectively collection of this garbage and ensure to be correctly recycled and reused in the most suitable way.

Similarly, it is so crucial not to confuse the value of bio based materials and avoiding garbage formation with stipulating its usage in some packaging applications. Consumers may be wrongly led to increase the garbage instead of reducing it, thinking that the bio based products are easily disappearing in the nature.

Lastly, with banning the single use packaging goods and compromising from the success of The Packaging Goods and Packaging Waste Directive and the benefits it provides for the society and environment, we would give wrong messages to consumers about the place of EU in their lives and the consistency of the common legislation that Europe developed for them.

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