Plastic, as a material, has reformed the way in which we package food, distribute it and securely devour it. It is estimated that packaging accounts in excess of a fourth of plastic worldwide, increasing the shelf life of many products and making food shopping more convenient for billions.
Notwithstanding, the world is waking up to the dependable effect that wrong management of plastic packaging is having on our environment, particularly in our seas. Approaches to address the plastic issue are currently being discussed at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
In certain parts of the world, for example, Southeast Asia, the spillage of waste into the sea has reached critical proportions, with four nations in the district contributing an expected 30 percent—or about 2.4 million tons—of all sea plastic waste. This has not gone unnoticed among Asia’s food and beverage manufacturers members of Food Industry Asia, who are keen to address this environmental threat.
“We would like to strengthen industry partnerships with international organizations and UN Member States on marine waste and solid waste management,” says Edwin Seah, the association’s Head of Sustainability and Communications.
“Our members are very interested in innovation in packaging. As an industry, we want to work closely with governments on policy development, waste management, collection and recycling,” says Seah, who has over the past year participated in several events organized by UN Environment’s Asia office in Bangkok.
Members from Food Industry Asia incorporate surely understood shopper businesses, for example, Danone and Unilever, who have been working to advance development in solid waste management.
In mid 2018, Danone’s famous Evian mineral water brand swore to utilize 100 percent reused plastic waste in containers by 2025. Unilever is trialing a noteworthy new innovation—CreaSolv®—to reuse plastic sachets.
Billions of sachets are sold yearly, especially in developing markets as a minimal effort option in contrast to purchasers who might somehow or another not manage the cost of specific items. Nonetheless, without a recycling solution, the sachets end up in landfills, waterways or the ocean.
The issue of plastic, and other solid waste, is likewise being tended to by the Republic of Singapore, which has Food Industry Asia’s headquarters.
“Since the late 1970s, Singapore has adopted waste-to-energy as a key solid waste management strategy. Singapore’s Tuas Nexus project marks a new chapter in the way solid waste and used water are managed in the country. It will combine an integrated waste management facility which will process incinerable waste, household recyclables, source-segregated food waste, with the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant, which will treat used water,” says Hazri Hassan, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Environment Programme.
“This is the first project of its kind in the world to be planned from ground up, and it is designed based on circular economy principles by harnessing synergies via the food-water-energy-waste nexus. A good example of the synergies is the co-digestion of food waste with used water sludge at the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant to increase the yield of biogas production. Biogas will be utilized at the integrated waste management facility to increase the overall plant thermal efficiency and power generation. This will enable the integrated waste management facility to export more power to the electricity grid while allowing both facilities to be energy self-sufficient. Through such synergies, Singapore will save more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year,“ he adds.
In September 2018, UN Environment, which drives the Global Partnership on Marine Litter and its Clean Seas campaign, launched the Global Plastics Platform to help support international efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
On 12 March 2019, delegates going to the Fourth UN Environment Assembly concurred on a solution for the sound management of waste and chemicals, to limit the negative effects of chemicals and waste.
The EU and its Member States, the African Group and Switzerland are leading the discussions, encouraging “governments, industry and the private sector, civil society, the scientific and academic community and all other relevant stakeholders to intensify and prioritize efforts on the sound management of chemicals and waste, towards the achievement of target 12.4 [on achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle] of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Such proposed policies and priorities concerning global environmental issues are critical in guiding Member States in their actions to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.