For the ‘fresh food’ section of the supermarket, there sure is a lot of plastic.
Wandering through a local grocer or the fresh food section of Coles and Woolies, plastic bags and punnets litter the landscape. They’re everywhere, and almost look at home from decades of use in a section known for being fresh and healthy.
But it’s time for a change. Our sixty year abuse of plastic has gone on long enough, with research now showing plastics have entered the marine food chain, and even our own.
For produce packaging like plastic punnets you’d assume they would work towards increasing the shelf life of the food inside. Instead, a plastic punnets main goal is to protect the food inside instead of increasing its shelf life (and may even lead to faster decay due to trapping of moisture).
There are other ways to help fruit and veggies survive transit!
– Everyone, ever
“What’s the big deal? Can’t we just recycle our plastic punnets in our yellow bins?”
Handling a plastic punnet, many come away with the impression that the plastic would be classified as rigid. But they aren’t, and fall under the classification of flexible – somewhere between rigid and soft.
Redcycle, a soft plastics recycler, can’t take them. Neither can the yellow recycling bin you have out the back. At the end of the day, the majority of plastic punnets end their life in landfill, entombed under thousands of tonnes of other general waste.
– Cr David Morrison, Works, Parks and Sport Committee Acting Chairperson, Ipswitch Council
“In theory, all plastics can be recycled, but Australia has not set up manufacturing to recycle the softer flexible plastics, like strawberry/fruit and vegetable punnet containers – so Visy doesn’t want it.”
It’s not like there aren’t alternatives to plastic punnets either. Cardboard and paper pulp punnets have been around long before plastic, and are just as good at protecting produce during transit. Cardboard is also compostable, enabling customers to put it in their home worm farms or other compost systems.
When it comes to our punnets, they’re also made from recovered paper pulp, meaning they’re sustainably sourced too!
Like punnets, plastic trays have also become a mainstay of produce and fresh food aisles. And like punnets, in many cases the plastic is not thick enough to be classified as rigid, making it unrecoverable. There are a massive range of produce packaging alternatives to these plastic trays, all of which reduce the amount of plastic produced.
Recently, we’ve brought out sugarcane bagasse produce trays for people looking for a strong, reliable and sustainable produce packaging alternative to plastic. With high wet strength, sugarcane fibre outclasses cardboard and performs on par with plastic for typical use!
When plastic bag bans hit in NSW and QLD, I was surprised to see that the super lightweight produce bags had managed to stick around.
And they don’t do your veggies any favours either. The plastic bags that you pack and likely use as storage don’t let moisture escape, sealing it in the bag and leading to early spoilage. Fruit and vegetables need room to breathe too, you know!
Our compostable Produce Bags are breathable and help keep produce fresher for longer. They’re also industrially compostable, allowing them to double as organic bin liners for customers with FOGO pickup.
There really isn’t any reason to use plastic when you have such amazing products that are fit for purpose that are also compostable and sustainably sourced. When you see plastic during your shop, ask the manager what steps they’ve taken to reduce their plastic footprint. Every piece counts!