The realities behind plastic food packaging

Caitríona Rogerson spoke at the Waste Day about her campaign against food packaging and other plastics and gave valuable insights into both the processing and recycling of our food packaging.




Did you know?

That ALL of Ireland’s cardboard recycling gets shipped to China for processing.

And that up to 70% of our plastic recycling waste does too?

Once there it will get processed, recycled and shipped back. If recycling is a way for you to feel better about lowering your carbon footprint, knowing this starts to question that, right?

How much longer can we use recycling as a conscience cleanser? That relief of guilt in thinking ‘ah sure at least its recyclable’ as you throw another useless piece of packaging into the green bin. Surely this is not a valid answer any more. Whether it ever was is also debatable. Does recycling a piece of plastic really have a positive impact on the planet if we are shipping that plastic to the other side of the world and back to do so?

And what would happen if China decides to stop taking all of the worlds recyclables?

Or if you found out that the cardboard never actually made it to the recycling plants in China. That the containers they were being shipped in were considered more valuable than the contents inside them and the cardboard was ‘disappearing’.


Our recycling systems are incredibly complex to get your head around and can be very confusing for people. Not all plastic is recyclable. And in fact the vast majority of our food packaging plastics are NOT recyclable.


During Caitriona’s campaign she found out (through painstakingly going through every piece of packaged fresh fruit and vegetables on supermarket shelves) that 83% of all vegetable packaging in supermarkets is non recyclable.


So what are the solutions for this?

There really is one simple (yet understandably not so simple) answer to the recycling problem and indeed to all waste problems:


Do not create the waste in the first place.


Easier said than done, this requires a re-assessment of everything that you do; how you organise your life, your planning, your consumer choices and most importantly your thinking. Every time you throw something in the bin, whether it be recycling, compost or landfill, you need to ask yourself – How could I have avoided this piece of waste? We have the answers, we just need to realise them.

It may take a generation to reprogram our way of thinking but it needs to happen and it needs to start now. With us.





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