Shoppers at the Jan Pieter Heijestraat branch of Ekoplaza, a Dutch supermarket chain, can now choose from more than 700 plastic-free products such as cereals, chocolate, dairy, fresh fruit, meat, rice, sauces, snacks, vegetables, and yogurt.
All items at the supermarket are packed in either compostable materials or cardboard, glass, and metal instead of plastic. In a statement, Erik Does, chief executive of Ekoplaza, said, “Plastic-free aisles are an important stepping stone to a brighter future for food and drink.”
He added, “We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging.” (Related: Plastic pollution is devastating ocean ecosystems, turning them into “toxic repositories;” documentary spurs action.)
Ekoplaza has 74 stores all over the Netherlands. The supermarket chain also has plans to launch similar aisles at all branches by the end of 2018.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, the environmental organization behind the project, expressed hope that other food retailers will soon follow suit. Sutherland shared that it is pointless to package “something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic.”
She continued that Europe’s biggest supermarkets will benefit by following in Ekoplaza’s footsteps since adopting a plastic-free aisle as soon as possible greatly reduces plastic waste.
Humanity’s massive plastic footprint can be traced to all areas around the globe, such as in our oceans and “in the stomachs and cavities of seabirds, turtles, and even tiny plankton.”
According to a recent study published in the journal Science Advances, since the 1950s, over 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of plastic has been produced, distributed, and thrown away.
At least 6.3 billion tonnes (6.9 tons) of plastic can be categorized as waste. However, only nine percent of that total is recycled, and 12 percent is incinerated. For the remainder, at least 79 percent of plastic waste, is left to pile up in landfills or pollute the environment.
Jenna Jambeck, study co-author and an associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, commented that since the bulk of plastics “don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense,” the plastic waste we produce might remain for at least hundreds or even thousands of years.
She warned that their calculations highlight the need to reconsider “the materials we use and our waste management practices.”
Roland Geyer, the lead author of the study and an industrial ecologist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, added that immediate measures must be put in place to curb the plastic waste that is regularly being produced.
But it looks like more retailers and governments are doing their part to minimize plastic pollution. Earlier in February, Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency suggested a bold 12-year timeline to eradicate four types of single-use plastics by 2030. Once successful, the timeline can eliminate the need for disposable tableware, drinking straws, shopping bags, and takeaway beverage cups.
In Chile, the sale of single-use plastic bags is prohibited in 102 coastal villages and towns. Meanwhile, Kenya has introduced a law that will fine or give anyone a jail sentence if they manufacture, sell, or carry a plastic bag. In Scotland, there have been plans to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds along with plastic straws.
If governments and retailers all around the world do their part, it’s possible that plastic pollution can be minimized to manageable levels.
Tips to minimize plastic waste
Every effort counts, and below are some tips to help minimize the plastic waste that you produce daily:
- Always use your own reusable steel or ceramic mugs/tumblers, especially when you’re at a coffeehouse.
- Avoid buying convenience foods packaged in plastic.
- Buy fresh produce at a farmer’s market, which is usually not packaged in plastic.
- Choose glass beverages bottles instead of plastic bottles.
- Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners in plastic packaging.
- Make your own bread.
- Skip the straws when you’re ordering drinks, or buy reusable glass, silicone, or stainless steel straws.
- Use cloth bags when you shop.
Read more articles on how to minimize your plastic waste at GreenLivingNews.com.