A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and the United Nations Environment Programme claims that the use of virgin plastic has ‘peaked’. However, this doesn’t represent the whole picture, David Burrows writes.

He points to the difference between the 1.8 per cent reduction in virgin plastic observed over the past two years and the 17 per cent further reduction predicted within the next four. Progress, he says, ‘can hardly be described as electric’, questioning the EMF’s forecast. The EMF report states that its forecast would see eight million tonnes of plastic kept out of the supply chain – this, however, only represents 5 per cent of all plastic packaging. Even then, achieving this would rely heavily on huge progress in the next four years to ensure that 100 per cent of plastic packaging is recyclable, compostable, or reusable (RCR), and also to incorporate more recycled content – ‘ten thousand tonnes of it’.

Companies may be using less virgin plastic, Burrows says, but this is largely due to their switch to different materials, some of which can have unintended consequences like contaminating recycling streams or bumping up carbon emissions. It’s not year clear what these actions will mean in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

EMF is calling for ‘substantially more effort’, Burrows concludes, but is anyone really listening?

Read the full article on the Food Service Footprint website.