Plastic alternatives may cause greater environmental harm, says new report

A new report from UK think tank Green Alliance’s Circular Economy Task Force has shown that companies are facing increased pressure to cut down on plastic and switch to alternative materials, which often come with greater environmental consequences.

Featuring anonymised interviews from the UK’s leading supermarkets and brands, the report, entitled ‘Plastic promises: what the grocery sector is really doing about packaging’ revealed that many businesses are making changes to their packaging without fully evaluating the environmental consequences. Many UK supermarkets, for instance, are switching to paper bags for loose produce, even though paper bags can have higher carbon impacts. One supermarket representative commented: “We are aware that [by switching from plastic to other materials] we may, in some cases, be increasing our carbon footprint.”

The report also pointed out that whilst over 80 per cent of consumers think that compostable or biodegradable packaging is the most environmentally friendly option, most people have little understanding of what these terms actually mean.