Removing plastics is the first and most necessary step in improving environmental and personal health–I envision a world in which we don’t live under the threat of continuously escalating concentrations of endocrine disrupting chemicals in our food and water. It’s not about a sepia-toned bike messenger dressed in fair trade linen carrying farm to table $50 per kg cherry tomatoes enrobed in glass and twine. It’s about a mega change to the way that we do commerce.
We could pass a whole suite of laws enabling us to effectively eliminate plastics from a huge majority of our packaging, and our lives, improving human and environmental health, and reducing our oil needs. The following are some policy-driven interventions that could occur at municipal, provincial, or federal levels:
Design a payment system where receipts are linked to credit card accounts: no receipts, especially no BPA based ones (federal/bank driven).
Dramatically widen and strengthen extended producer responsibility legislation, forcing companies. BC’s EPR legislation essentially asks producers to fund recycling programs, but there are several other ways of doing this that will be more effective:
Tax non-reusable packaging: a per-kilo fee that is *high enough* that other options (such as container re-use) become at least as cost effective (federal/provincial)
Mandate re-use programs in key industries: coca cola’s glass bottle collection program is a great demonstration of how we can remove millions of disposable containers from the system. The old school milk distribution system is another (municipal/provincial).
Mandate that the weight of jars be printed on them: this would massively enable people to bring their own containers to bulk stores without having to go through the pre-weigh hassle (federal).
Hey Declan! I really like how you included some laws in this post. Spreading some potential solutions to improve the problems is a great way to start. Whether that come from innovating plastic alternatives OR strengthening legislation, but are interesting and necessary to research and invest it.
great post! i like your suggestions for change too! they would definitely improve sustainability
Hey Declan, I would be interested in your thoughts on plastic and one-use systems for health systems. I think we have built some serious critical infrastructure on the use of plastic we will seriously have to reckon with in the future. Outside of consumption, plastic is a vital part of our lives as humans, and it's very hard to quantify the industrial change required for us to wean ourselves off. The petroleum engineers of the past may have been deviously overzealous.
I really appreciate these concrete interventions and examples. These are all completely doable. I especially like your last one which would facilitate individuals re-using their own containers for everyday items and I hadn't thought about this before (I just weighed them and put the weight on the lid and jar using tape). Very good thinking! Thanks for sharing!
I love the wide range of innovative strategies you got there Declan! The bottom line is, regulation is IMPORTANT. We need to have society where using plastic is way more expensive that reusing glass and other types of inert containers (which it is but the price is not reflected on the price tag). We need to normalize reusing glass containers and phase out plastic.