Plastic is so pervasive in everyday life, it’s not even something most of us notice anymore. From our cars to our medical devices and everything in-between, plastic is used in nearly every industry in the world.
However, it’s no secret that overproduction and over-reliance on plastic is causing an ecological disaster like we’ve never seen before. The need to cut back on plastic is immediate, but it’s not a simple matter of eliminating plastic entirely. To deal with the plastic problem, we need to start taking a “plastic neutral” stance on plastic use: cutting where we can, investing in recycling programs, and properly disposing of plastic waste.
Here are some industries where plastic cannot be avoided but can help reduce their impact through “plastic neutral” programs.
Food Production and Distribution
One of the biggest users of plastic is the food industry. Plastic packaging keeps food from spoiling for longer, and assists in its transport. Eliminating plastic altogether from the food chain is incredibly difficult, but there are some changes that can be made to bring our food systems to a more “plastic neutral” position.
First and foremost, shortening the food supply chain can help reduce plastic use because the shorter the distance food has to travel, the less packaging you need to ship and preserve it. Grocery stores can also invest in more bulk food sections and offer their customers the option to bring their own reusable containers to take their food home in instead of individually portioning food out unnecessarily.
The shipping industry heavily relies on plastics to package and transport goods. However, simple swaps can be made to make the shipping industry more sustainable.
For a start, instead of using shipping pallets made from virgin plastic, using ones made from recycled plastic is a much more sustainable alternative. Ensuring that broken pallets are cleaned and sent to recycling facilities that can properly handle them also helps.
Also, trading plastic packing materials such as plastic wrap for biodegradable alternatives can go a long way in reducing unsustainable single-use plastic product use. Things such as biodegradable packaging peanuts and even biodegradable shrink wrap are all available and have a much smaller environmental footprint than their plastic alternatives.
From internal engine parts to the cupholders, plastic makes up more parts of your car than you may realize. The automotive industry heavily relies on plastic to make cars more affordable, yet still durable, and eliminating plastic altogether from the auto industry would be nearly impossible without making vehicles more expensive and much more scarce.
However, there are ways to reduce their plastic footprint without giving plastic the boot entirely. They can invest in recycling programs that clean and properly dispose of worn or broken plastic parts. They can also invest in methods of producing more sustainable plastic parts, ones made from sturdy, colorless plastics that can be recycled more easily.
Why “Plastic Neutral” is a Big Leap Towards Plastic-Free
Our society is so dependent on plastic that simply telling every industry to stop producing and using plastic immediately would disrupt supply chains so much so that people would not have access to necessities they need to live in the modern world.
By working instead towards a “plastic neutral” approach first, we begin to reduce our plastic dependency without reducing access to goods and services.
RIO is heavily investing in helping companies reduce their plastic footprint through their Plastic Neutral Program, which allows companies get involved in the cleanup of marine plastic waste while engaging them in discussions about how they can reduce their plastic footprint to prevent waste from continuing to pile up.
Small steps lead to big change, and to reduce the impact of plastics on our oceans, we all need to keep moving forward one small step at a time.
You can help stop plastic pollution in our oceans by purchasing products from companies dedicated to producing plastic-free, sustainable products. RIO not only helps you stock up on sustainable goods, but is also dedicated to using the proceeds to rid our oceans of plastic once and for all.