Recycling is not enough warns Greenpeace

Recycling initiatives are not enough to tackle the growing crisis in plastics waste, environmental organisation Greenpeace has warned.

“We do not feel that recycling or recyclability will ever be enough to address this crisis,” Perry Wheeler, senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA, told Plastics In Packaging. “We need reduction efforts and a fundamental shift in how products are brought to people.”

According to Greenpeace, companies that use plastics packaging should commit to achieving peak single-use plastics this year. Wheeler explained that, from this point forward, there should be “a year-over-year absolute reduction of total single-use plastics packaging units produced and sold by the company globally”.

Transparency is also key. Greenpeace is calling for annual public reporting of comprehensive information about a company’s packaging footprint, including any plastics, pulp or other materials used in packaging.

This information should be broken down by percentage and units of how products are sold by delivery system (for example single-use, refill, delivery, etc) and material reuse, recycling, and disposal rates across global operations.

In addition, the environmental organisation is pushing for greater innovation to solve the plastics waste crisis. Wheeler said that more investment is needed in alternative delivery systems based on reuse and refill.

Greenpeace believes that this investment should be equal to or greater than the investment in end of pipe solutions and alternative materials, including working with a major international retailer to pilot a plastics-free retail environment and adequately promoting new plastics-free systems.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace warned that companies should avoid false solutions. The organisation has emphasised that achieving peak single-use plastics and year over year reductions should be done through alternative delivery models and not via a move to “alternative throwaway materials”.