Supermarket giants need to take plastic lead
THE ABC program War on Waste has been quite the pivotal moment in Australian television history as it seems the series has finally managed to galvanise us as a loose collective in really taking a good look at how poorly we manage our waste.
The Chinese Government’s decision to stop importing mega tonnes of our waste also frogmarched us into the reality that if we produce it we need to reduce it and it is no good just sending it over the horizon and hoping the problem goes away.
The planet is not the easiest place to leave at the moment so it is up to us to take the lead and clean the place up.
Reusables in the retail sector account for a large percentage of the waste that we produce but certainly the big retailers like Woolworths, Coles, IGA etc. have finally acknowledged they need to play their part.
By July 1 in this State, single-use plastic bags will be banned and shoppers are going to have to provide their own bags or purchase them from the retailers. Oddly, some of the big supermarkets are going to use multi-use heavy duty plastic bags as the default option which is quite silly given these bags take longer to break down once they are in the environment.
Anything you use to carry your groceries out of the shop is going to have an energy use price to it whether that be a bag made out of scrap material by grandma at home or canvas or cotton bag purchased over the counter.
For me, I am quite attracted to bags made out of hemp which, according to Mr Google is one of the oldest farmed crops on the planet. Hemp bags are strong, lightweight and when it reaches the end of its life it just goes in the compost bin.
Getting your groceries out to the car is only part of the problem, as getting the groceries out of their own packaging is a bigger problem. The industry itself has got to take the lead and ownership of this problem instead of just turning a blind eye and putting the responsibility back on us to dispose of all the plastic and polyurethane trays that encapsulate everything from vegetables to meat.
Shifting that cost onto us is not acceptable and as retailing collectives they now need to show that they are exemplary citizens of the planet by their actions in using degradable alternatives to wrap their merchandise in.
Then and only then can they tag themselves as environmentally friendly.