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Why won’t WRAP promote the use of Plastic?

WRAP was established in 2000. It was funded by D.E.F.R.A, it’s remit was to reduce food and packaging waste. It had a concise mantra that caught everyone’s imagination. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The photographs show the different ways of packaging liquids. The analysis that follows clearly shows how plastics reduce both packaging and GHG emissions. So, why won’t WRAP promote plastics? Read more…

The following analysis raises the question, ‘Why do we cut down millions of trees to pack beer, water, and soft drinks in cardboard collation packs?.’ Equally pertinent is, ‘Why do we use glass bottles to package beer, water, and soft drinks, when there are examples elsewhere that demonstrates plastic bottles can do the job? This analysis highlights why the use of glass, and cardboard for packaging these liquids is not only a complete waste of the Earth’s natural resources, but also creates more waste and GHG emissions. This glass and board packaging increases transport, waste, and global warming. If collation packs are required then plastic rings are perfect packaging!

Consider the packaging analysis in this table;  

(All GHG emissions are calculated using UK Government emissions conversion factors).

This analysis highlights;

The Glass bottle pack is 14 x heavier than the Plastic bottle pack and 11 x heavier than the Aluminium can pack. Glass generates 5 x the GHG emissions when compared to the plastic and nearly double the aluminium CO2 emissions. Overall, it has a pack weight per litre of product some 20 x that of plastic!! This is an enormous waste of the Earth’s resources! Would the public prefer glass bottles if they were made aware of the environmental cost?

Collation Packaging

In truth, all this packaging is superfluous and should be removed. However, if collation packs are used, then the plastic rings are by far the best environmental solution for reducing both waste and CO2 generated.

The board packaging is some 13 x heavier than the plastic rings and 3.5 x heavier than the shrink wrap. Board generates 4 x the CO2 emissions of the plastic rings and 25% more than shrink wrap. Would the public choose cardboard packaging if they knew the environmental cost?

So, what’s the point of this analysis?

If WRAP is really serious about reducing packaging waste, why doesn’t it campaign to eliminate collation packaging altogether? WRAP should then require all glass (bottles and jars), wherever possible, to be replaced by plastic. In addition, it should campaign for plastic packaging to replace board packaging wherever possible.

Every tonne of unnecessary cardboard used for this application requires up to 14 trees and up to 5000 gallons of water. That’s millions of trees and billions of gallons of water wasted! No doubt the board industry will claim that much of this material is recycled, but the energy and chemicals used in doing so are excessive and as the board shouldn’t be used in the first place, it wouldn’t need ‘recycling.’  

Similarly, not only is glass manufacture highly energy intensive, for every lorry carrying these liquids in plastic bottles, 13 extra lorries are needed on our roads when glass bottles are used. Thus, the potential to reduce both lorry traffic and global warming is enormous.

Beer in plastic bottles 

Equally relevant is the fact that San Miguel first used plastic bottles for packaging their beer in 2004. Since then, major brands, such as Heineken and Carlsberg, along with many others around the world, have supplied beer in plastic bottles. Thus, any claim that beer, soft drinks, and water cannot be supplied in plastic bottles is simply not true.  

WRAP claim their vision is ‘A thriving world in which climate change is no longer a problem.’ If this were true, surely here is a perfect opportunity to contribute to making this vision into a reality. They also claim they are ‘In the business of waste reduction and climate change elimination.’ Therefore, they could, and should, be campaigning to reduce, not only this totally unnecessary collation packaging, but also campaigning for the least environmentally damaging packaging materials to be used. Thus, collation packs of all types should be eliminated and wherever possible plastic should replace glass bottles and jars. This would bring their vision nearer. The reason being, plastic bottles (and plastic packaging where appropriate) reduces waste, reduces the use of the Earth’s natural resources, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

So, why won’t WRAP promote the use of plastic? Indeed, instead of promoting plastics, their website refers to ‘The scourge of plastic waste.’ Why is plastic waste somehow different from any other waste? They are well aware that all these plastic bottles are PET and 100% recyclable, so have WRAP simply become little more than a conduit for the governments, populist, anti-plastic policies? Your guess is as good as mine, but your views would be welcome.     

Any other opinions you may have on any of the items raised would be welcome. Meanwhile, why not join me on LinkedIn for more regular discussions on points of interest.



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