Do You Really Need that Plastic Package?

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We are always looking for solutions to solve our problems, that have been caused by our own inventions/ activities. Currently, the solutions that we are trying to develop for some of the monumental challenges like global warming, mass extinction and plastic pollution should be of urgency. The effort that we put in while developing some of the economic innovations like plastic revolution will remain historical.

Before Plastic 1960s

How did we drink, package, eat and preserve? This is a question that is always on my mind when I think about the harm that is caused by plastic waste pollution. I attended a forum a few years back and can recall the words of one environmentalist ‘Do you really need the plastic package’? Before plastic packaging, solid edible (fruits, cereals, vegetables etc) products were packaged in brown paper bags. Drinks e.g milk would be delivered at our doorsteps and emptied in a reusable container drinks like soda from coca cola company were packaged in glass bottles which on return you will get a cash refund. I remember my grandmother preserving meat by roasting and our drinking water was cooled in a clay pot that gave it a natural sweet test. Indeed I can attest to the Swahili saying that goes ‘mwacha mila ni mtumwa’ we have today become slaves to our very own actions.

Plastic error

Is it time for as to start replicating some of this things? Think of it, there are several simple activities we can take from how we used to live, that will help us reduce the amount of single use plastic pollution that we generate significantly. Refusing to buy products packaged in single use plastics when tin /glass alternatives are available, use of reusable or returnable packaging alternatives whenever possible and purchasing goods in bulk thus reducing on frequent purchasing that comes with a lot of packaging.

The efficiency of single use plastics for the economy are numerous. Plastic is a fundamental aspect of our lives, though it’s becoming malevolent if we can’t understand how much of it is enough and when. Plastics offer consumer benefits in various ways i.e favourable cost, convenience/light weight, long lasting, reduced food waste and are extremely versatile. With this benefits, only if we become responsible, will the plastic products serve us without negatively impacting our health and environment. Responsible end users of products that ensures that the waste ends up at the right place. For those single us plastics that cannot be recycled like Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC should be replaced with other alternatives.

With the ban on single use plastics in protected areas by President Uhuru Kenyatta, as a nation and business sector we need to go back to the drawing board and re look into our activities. Where have we misplaced our priorities when it comes proper waste management?

A proper waste management infrastructure that is efficiently managed across the value chain will reduce plastic waste in our landfills and waterways. This coupled up with awareness creation on the values of sustainable waste management will trigger mind-set change to embrace individual responsibility for personal waste generated. Stepping up waste separation, collection recycling and boosting of proper disposal of items that can’t be recycled. The role of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)/Consumer Responsibility should be clear in the policy and regulatory framework. What is important is to have a collective and informed action plan for government, private sector and individuals for a sensible direction direction.

Article By Pracksidis Wandera
December 2019