Plastic may ensure food safety and extend its shelf life, but most of it is not recycled. (iStock)

Almost all Canadians want to reduce plastic food packaging: survey

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Over 93 per cent of Canadians are personally motivated to reduce single-use plastic food packaging, according to a survey by Dalhousie University in eastern Canada. Almost 90 per cent think regulations to reduce the use of such packaging should be strengthened and more than 71 per cent support a total ban.

‘Convincing, dramatic’ results

“That is very convincing and that’s a very dramatic piece of data from this study,” says Tony Walker, an assistant professor and co-author of this study. “However what we did find, whilst most Canadians want to reduce their environmental impact…(they) don’t want to pay more than a 2.5 per cent price increase for a green alternative.”

The amount of plastic wrapping for food has increased dramatically over recent years to maintain food safety and to extend the shelf life of foods. Besides the huge quantity of plastic produces, many different types of are used, many of which are not recyclable by municipalities. The result is that the vast majority finds itself in landfills or the environment or is burned.

There is already some production of compostable food packaging. (iStock)

A call for alternatives to plastic packaging

This study suggests the food industry needs to produce packaging that closely aligns with what municipalities can recycle, and that there needs to be more research and development into alternatives to plastic packaging. Another recommendation is that there be more biodegradable compostable options.

Some change is already happening. A bulk food chain is allowing people to bring their own containers provided they are clean, as is a mainstream food retailer in the province of Quebec.
And today, the large Loblaw food chain announced a partnership with a company that will produce sturdy packaging that can be returned to it, then cleaned and sterilized for reuse.

Walker says the survey shows Canadians are ready for more action.

“I think now is the time for the food sector as well as policy-makers to get on board and not only talk about this but to come up with tangible policies that would allow this transition to reduce single-use plastics in our packaging.

Prof. Tony Walker explains his study and recommendations to reduce single-use food packaging.

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Categories: Environment, Society
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