If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know we at Pink Bins have plenty to say about the ‘evils’ of plastic. And judging be a couple of recent news stories, it seems we’re not alone in our views.

Over in Germany

Last week, German supermarket chain Lidl made an announcement. By early next year, they will stop selling standard plastic carrier bags. This is a big deal because they currently distribute about 100 million plastic bags per year, which is around 3,500 tonnes of plastic!

When the ban takes effect, Lidl will offer their customers five alternatives:

  • cool-bags for frozen products
  • 100% cotton Fairtrade-certified bags
  • unbleached paper bags
  • and two versions of woven shopping bags.

At home in Aotearoa

Many Kiwi businesses are following suit. In June, we mentioned a supermarket in Palmerston North that encourages customers to use fewer plastic bags. And a few days ago, the New Zealand Herald reported that Okere Falls Store in Rotorua will ban Coca-Cola products from mid-October. Apparently, the owner made the decision after seeing first-hand the damage plastic does to the environment while attending the World Rafting Championships in Indonesia.

Okere Falls Store said the following on their Facebook page:

“What you drink should not only taste good, it should be good for the land … put simple, plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare at every point of their existence.”

They go on to claim that only one of every six plastic bottles purchased actually gets recycled, which sounds about right.

What’s the big deal?

Why do these businesses bother? Well, undoubtedly, they want to be thought of favourably by their customers. You see, there is growing recognition among consumers worldwide of the damage plastic wreaks on the environment.

For a start, its primary ingredient is petroleum, which seeps toxic chemicals into the ground when it decomposes. And on the subject of decomposition, plastic can take anywhere from 500 to 1000 years to decompose. Imagine what our great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will think when they uncover a ‘pristine’ coke bottle a millennium from now!

Then there are the problems caused to aquatic life. You see, fish and mammals often find it hard to discern between a plastic bag and something nice to eat, which causes malnutrition and starvation.

So, will plastic packaging become a relic of the past? Who knows? One thing that’s for sure, though, is that as time goes by, it will be used far less.

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