Consumer pressure to end plastic packaging in shops could actually be harming the environment, a report says. Firms are swapping to other packaging materials which are potentially even worse for the environment, the cross-party Parliamentary group warns. Glass bottles, for instance, are much heavier than plastic so are far more polluting to transport. Paper bags tend to have higher carbon emissions than plastic bags – and are more difficult to re-use.And so on. This is all tediously predictable; a simple knee-jerk "plastic is bad" is stupid; and the general public I think generally can't cope with subtlety.
But then again, neither can the Beeb. Because if you actually read the report1, you find:
There have been some minor changes, for the most part switching from one single use option to another. These include the use of new types of material to replace some plastic in the bottled water market and moves away from plastic straws and stirrers ahead of the forthcoming ban in England in 2020. But, overall, the proportion of plastic packaging seen on most supermarket shelves, and the amount collected as waste and reported to the Environment Agency, has not altered significantly.Which I find somewhat cheerful. Supermarkets were using plastic packaging because it made sense, and it still continues to make sense.
another noted: “It’s been mostly complaints, saying that plastic is evil and has no place, regardless of any positives it might have in addressing food waste and what not… But this outrage is not necessarily translating into changes in purchasing habits... customers’ concerns over plastic pollution are not yet evident in what they are buying. One observed: “A lot more consumers are saying that they are already avoiding what they understand as single use plastics – that is a clear and consistent trend coming through our research. The challenge is that’s claimed behaviour and is not necessarily coming through as actual behaviours from consumers yet.” Another was far more blunt: “When it comes down to real consumer behaviour, they ain’t changing yet.”As far as I can tell the entire "plastic pollution" scare is, in the West, nonsense. See e.g. Stemming the Plastic Tide: 10 Rivers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans; The Yangtze alone pours up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons into the Yellow Sea.
1. Ignoring the boilerplate "Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems of our age" which is nonsense.
* Explain Your Extremists by Bryan Caplan
* The solution to the plastic waste crisis? It isn’t recycling; by John Vidal; There’s no way of making current levels of consumption ‘environmentally friendly’
* The Perverse Panic over Plastic - John Tierney, City Journal