Environmentalism a single-issue plastic waste campaign?

plastic waste

As a cosmetics manufacturer, plastic waste is of concern.

We use plastic bottles. There is no denying the environmental problems posed. The widespread distribution in the food chain of microplastics. And the human health risks. And the problem is not getting any better. But it is not a quick fix issue. Rather than looking for quick fixes, let‘s focus on identifying the underlying drivers of waste. We should focus on opportunities for systemic change.

But, at the same time, the singular focus on plastic waste is fast becoming a distraction from the bigger issue. The need to attack climate change. This single focus does more harm than good.

Let’s look at what is happening. In Malaysia I see many brands leveraging this issue to increase their sales. These brands have a short horizon and offer customers no long-term solutions towards attacking climate change. It’s all about sales only.

Plastic is not the culprit. In fact, it is a very useful material. You may be surprised to learn that science shows that for climate change, paper and cotton are actually far more damaging than recycled plastic. In fact, plastic bags were designed to save the planet. They were never designed to be thrown away. The idea was that they would be reused over and over again. But somehow, these days, they have evolved into single-use. For more info on this, check out my blog HERE.

Eliminating this material may not always produce environmental benefits. For example, eliminating plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables in supermarkets may produce negative environmental impacts. This packaging has benefits—even for the environment. Some packaging, for instance, prevents food waste (and therefore deforestation, fertiliser use, or vehicle emissions).

The real issue here is that this focus on plastics is in danger of turning environmentalism into a single-issue campaign. This could do more harm than good. The biggest environmental challenge facing our planet is climate change—and anything that distracts attention from this is dangerous. The public focus needs to be broader.

Rather than looking for quick fixes, let‘s focus on identifying the underlying drivers of waste. We should focus on opportunities for systemic change in dealing with plastic waste. For example, the need for financial incentives to support the transition to zero waste solutions. Also, investment to better integrate food supply chains between rural and urban areas. At the same time recognising the opportunities that exist for reducing waste and emissions. We need to support investments to develop a waste infrastructure. The plastic manufacturing industry is looking at reducing plastic waste.

If you want to use plastic-free skincare products, consider our range of handmade natural soap. And at Indochine Natural our products are packed in recyclable plastic. So, with empty bottles do your part and return these to a recycler.

Discover Indochine Natural today.

Dr. Mike Thair

Master Formulator

Indochine Natural

Photo credit: Louis Hans

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