“It treats the symptoms, not the disease,” he says. So over the course of Easter weekend, while everyone else was hunting for eggs, I went scavenging for plastic. Science Fair Project Ideas for Kids, Middle & High School Students, Environmental Protection Agency: Recycling the Hard Stuff, Popular Mechanics: Recycling By the Numbers: The Truth About Recycling. About eight million metric tonnes of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually, according to data cited by Earth Day Network (Credit: Getty Images). It’s a busy street for tourists, commuters and groups of bored kids, and even though it’s lined with bins, I’m confident I’ll find a couple of abandoned bottles. “I think people underestimate the benefits of plastics in reducing food waste,” says Anthony Ryan, professor of chemistry and director of The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield. Plastics must be sorted by type, processed into clean flakes or pellets and then they are ready to go into products such as polyester or plastic lumber. But despite these commitments, much of the food and drinks industry is still trying to work out how it will meet the targets it has helped to set for itself. And all for making the planet a nicer place to live. Contact Supplier. She lives on the other side of town so ordinarily I’d drive, but today I decide to make the 45 minute walk, this time armed with multiple bags for life. It too has found that producing bottles from plants comes at a premium, although it wouldn’t share with BBC Capital what this cost was. Extending the shelf life of produce by just one day would save shoppers in the UK up to £500 million ($661m), according to anti-waste charity Wrap. And as many countries seek to introduce new laws that will put new levies on plastic bags and ban certain types of single use packaging, refillable and reusable options may become more attractive. Based in Wenatchee, Wash., Andrea Becker specializes in biology, ecology and environmental sciences. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Putting grapes in their own individual plastic boxes has been found to cut food waste by 75%. Recycling aluminum and plastics takes them out of the conventional waste stream, saving both space in landfills and the materials needed to make products from virgin materials. The shrink wrap used on cucumbers for instance, can more than double the length of time the vegetable can last, allowing it to be kept for up to 15 days in the fridge and cutting food waste in half. Working on the assumption that I could redeem each bottle for 15p, I wanted to see how much money I could make, and how much effort would be involved. Plastic films and protective trays keep fresh meat in an oxygen free atmosphere, helping to prevent it from spoiling (Credit: Getty Images). Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. This keeps fresh meat in an oxygen-free atmosphere, helping to prevent it from spoiling. Plastic litter now clutters every part of our planet, from remote parts of the Antarctic to the deepest ocean trenches. Plastic wrapping can also keep fruit and vegetables in their own little microclimates – known in the industry as modified atmosphere packaging – which can help to prevent them from ripening too quicky. Rather than abolishing plastics altogether, he proposes reusing the packaging we currently throw away. Rachel England went scavenging to see how much this cash-for-trash scheme could pay out, Get our money-saving tips and top offers direct to your inbox with the Mirror Money newsletter. Plastic is a problem that isn’t going away. It’s not yet clear how much the bottle deposit would be. In response to mounting pressure, governments, manufacturers and retailers are beginning to take steps to tackle the tide of plastic waste. Neon Mountain Dew bottles were the easiest to spot, glowing ethereally in bushes or behind bus stops like video game quest points. One proposed solution is a bottle deposit return scheme. Another bioplastics leader is Coca-Cola, which two years ago launched the PlantBottle, a PET partially made with Brazilian sugarcane. Surprisingly, due to rising oil prices, recycled plastic is actually cheaper to use than fresh, virgin plastic made from oil. But how much will this fundemantal change to the way we buy our goods actually cost? Few people would willingly throw money away, would they? Like most people, I’d become so used to seeing plastic rubbish on the streets that it barely registered with me. A 330ml plastic soft drink bottle contains around 18 grams of material while a glass bottle can weigh between 190g and 250g. The cost of changing an entire country’s alphabet, Sir David Attenborough highlighted the problems plastics, Coca-Cola, for example, produces 38,250 tonnes of plastic packaging, remove plastics from its packaging by 2023. reduce packaging costs by at least $8 billion a year. The trip takes me through the centre of the city, and even though the street cleaning team has already been out to clear up the previous night’s carnage, I arrive on my friend’s doorstep with a further 32 bottles. Most packaging is now used just once and thrown away. Regularly she finds seals entangled in this debris or albatross chicks coughing up bits of plastic film. Cost of plastic recycling machine PET bottle water bottle recycling machine with plastic crusher. “If the disease is our throw-away society, making packaging biodegradable only encourages people to throw more away.”. US $65000-$68000 / Set. “Anything that can reduce the amount of plastic debris in the environment is a step in the right direction.”. It has swapped its traditional plastic tubes for polyethylene made from sugarcane. And it’s working well elsewhere. “Making this change is going to cost money,” warns Richard Walker, the chain’s managing director. An unwrapped cucumber would last just two days at room temperature and 9 days if refrigerated. To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. “But we are determined that our customers will not have to foot the bill.”, Soft drinks plastic packaging makes up around 20% of the total food and drink packaging on the market, according to data from Coca Cola (Credit: Getty Images). “You could get all of these properties from a single thicker piece of polyethylene. Then you would have a reduced set of materials, which would make separating and recycling this stuff easier.”. Whoever it was that bought a freshly-squeezed green lemonade and kale smoothie from M&S and then lobbed the bottle onto a grass verge clearly has no sense of irony. “In modern meat or soft fruit packaging you might have several thin layers to give it strength, to stop gas permeability and to act as an adhesive,” he explains. She holds a Master of Science in wildlife management from Iowa State University. The company has pledged to double the amount of recycled material in its plastic bottles in the UK and is trialling refillable bottles. Several major supermarkets, including multinationals Tesco and Walmart, have already promised to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they sell their products in. More than 60 countries are introducing legislation aimed at reducing the use of plastic bags and other single use plastic materials. Alongside Coca-Cola, drinks manufacturers Pepsi, food and cleaning multinational Unilever, food producer Nestle and cosmetics company L’Oreal have also pledged to ensure all their packaging is either reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 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