How appropriate and environmentally friendly are (plastic) packaging materials really?
Well, packaging has been in use for thousands of years – in a huge variety of shapes and with a wide range of functions. Every day, Mother Nature shows us that most products get damaged or go bad without some kind of packaging so that they can no longer be used or are even a risk to mankind. Packaging protects the product and, consequently, us people against potential dangers that the content could cause. Just think of chemicals in the school lab or a kitchen knife on a shop shelf!
Packaging: More favorable generation of CO2 than in food production
Packaging protects and is thus meaningful in most cases. This can best be illustrated with an example from the food industry. Every year, around 60 million tons of food perish in Europe and are then inedible and have to be disposed of. Each kilogram of meat produces around 13 kg of CO2 before it reaches the point of sale in a shop. The situation with fruit and vegetables is similar. Packaging made of a suitable material prevents the various foodstuffs from deteriorating for a much longer time than could ever be achieved without the package. As a result, this foil contributes towards helping to prevent food from being thrown out. What is amazing is that the production of the packaging needed for this purpose generates just 0.2 kg of CO2 compared to 13 kg for the meat, fruit or vegetables – which would otherwise be unfit for eating. That is 65 times as much!
Protecting products with packaging is at the same time climate protection
And what about the plastic waste in the seas and oceans – also referred to as “marine litter”? A regrettable and disgusting dilemma – and one that could be avoided! There is of course a reason why plastics reach the oceans. And every single one of us can do their bit to ensure that it stops. All this waste does not jump into the water by itself. A properly functioning recycling and deposit system can put a stop to this misuse of the oceans as rubbish dumps. In Germany, around 50% of plastic packaging materials are recycled. Thermal utilization ensures that the remaining amount is used for community heating systems in residential areas, thus making the additional use of heating oil and gas unnecessary. In consequence, even after its designated use as a packaging, plastic is put to good use a second time.
“Zero pellet loss” against marine litter
MENSHEN also contributes in other ways towards cleaning the oceans. For several years now, we have been involved in the “zero pellet loss” campaign. This means that we have committed to create the necessary technical and organizational preconditions for avoiding granulate spillages and preventing it from getting into the environment. Even though only a very low proportion of the waste in seas and oceans is granulate, we want to set an example.
Packaging – as ever, an important and fascinating topic. We’ll stay on the ball! Read more here in the near future!