Our View: Plastic can be a wise choice

So many of our convenience products from packaging to mugs to machines are made from plastic, a by-product of the oil industry.

Plastic has been much maligned in recent years. It has been branded anti-environmental, and accused of leading to global warming and an unsustainable existence on this green planet.

But the plastics industry makes the point that plastic packaging is the most efficient form of delivering food with least amount of food waste, and resulting in less packaging waste.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association argues that, because plastic is lightweight yet strong, it is ideal for many types of packaging.

A recent study showed that, if certain plastic packaging didn’t exist – for instance, caps and closures, beverage containers, rigid containers, carrier bags, various stretch and shrink wraps, and other forms – 450 per cent more packaging by weight would be needed, demanding expenditure of 80 per cent more energy.

Every year, that would be equivalent to the energy from 3,800 oil supertankers.

It would be like adding 15.7 million more cars on the road.

The other argument for plastic packaging is that it protects food from oxygen, light, temperature, moisture, microbes, critters, and dirt, thereby extending the shelf life of food and slowing down spoilage, which leads to less food waste, according the industry association.

There aren’t many of us who don’t use plastic every day.

In B.C., the onus for recycling is increasingly being put on the consumer, and rightly so – if you buy it, you pay to get rid of it.

In the end, whether we use wood, glass, plastic, or fibre for day-to-day use, the fact is, we all have to start using less of everything, re-use whatever we can, keep up the recycling efforts, and continue to divert as much of our garbage as possible away from landfills.

–  M.R.

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