}

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This change to plastic is good

Many years ago, supermarkets switched from paper bags to plastic bags. Not many of us remember precisely when that was, but those of us above a certain age may remember being asked, “paper or plastic?” That switch has become controversial, but a current switch to plastic is an absolutely great thing.

Last week, I bought some chicken at our local New World supermarket, and I noticed the tray was blue plastic, instead of the blue polystyrene (a form of plastic that includes Styrofoam) it had always been. I also bought some beef mince (“ground beef” or “hamburger” in the USA), and it came in a clear plastic tray (photo above).

The reason this is such great news is that the trays are recyclable, and the polystyrene trays are not. Polystyrene in its various forms is slow to biodegrade, and is one of the largest types of pollution in the oceans. The polystyrene trays are also fragile and break easily. Once thrown in the rubbish, they can break into many small pieces and, if the rubbish bag breaks, can fly around all over the place.

It turns out that while this was new to me, the trials actually began last year. I don’t know if the trays appearing at our local stores means they’re being rolled out nationwide or not, but I hope so.

The move from polystyrene meat trays to ones made of recyclable plastic may seem like a small thing, but the fact they can be recycled and that they’re stronger are all good things. It’s one more thing that doesn’t have to go into our landfill-bound rubbish. The amount of rubbish we send to landfill has been declining a lot over the past few years, and this will help that even more.

So, in this case, a supermarket switching to plastic is a very, very good thing.

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