Cazenave: see value, not waste

Cazenave: see value, not waste

Restore respect for plastic!

ROMAIN CAZENAVE, group marketing director, Dow Plastics & Specialty Packaging, says he‘s on a campaign to restore respect for plastic which is under the spotlight now

November 2018

Plastic waste is well and truly under the spotlight right now. And so it should be. Our planet is precious and we all have a responsibility to care for it – images of plastic-strewn beaches and floating islands of waste in our oceans are truly distressing and people are right to be angry. But are we directing our anger in the right way? In the noise we hear every day, plastic has become the problem and not a solution – and this is not right. We need to make sure that the positive contributions made by plastic such as preventing food waste, are not lost in the heat and light of debate – and that righteous anger is turned into positive action for the future.

There are 870 million chronically undernourished people on our planet today – and yet we waste an astonishing 1.3 billion tons of the food we produce every single year, according to FAO. And the situation threatens to be even worse, with the globe’s population set to hit 8.5 billion by 2030, demanding 50 per cent more food and 40 per cent more water.

Packaging is used for a reason – to prevent food going to waste on our shelves, in our fridges and through transportation. We need to get food from farm to fork and for it not to go off in between and plastic packaging enables that.

But – and it is a large BUT – we have to use it with respect. And we seem to be losing a lot of respect these days – for farmers who put the food on our plates day after day (if we’re one of the lucky ones). For our oceans which we’re treating as waste disposal units. But also for an amazing material that lubricates the engine of modern life.

It’s not plastic that pollutes, its human behaviour and responsibility – and the good news is that we do have the power to make a difference. That’s why I’m on a campaign to restore respect for plastic and I believe we can do that in three key ways:

1. Responsible materials development – with functional resins that drive lighter weight yet stronger materials using less resources, we’ll drive down emissions, reduce transport costs and create better performing packaging that keeps food fresh for longer. Less material use in the first place, and less food waste: it’s a win-win.

2. Responsible waste management – increase recyclability and decrease waste. That means collaboration. We need practical and cost effective packaging design, with built-in recyclability. But we also need more engagement from government and industry partners in enabling recycling infrastructure. Relentless R&D to improve recycling and sorting techniques. Increased involvement from brand owners, and from retailers who should be proud to put recyclable packaging on their shelves.

3. See value, not waste. Divert previously landfilled items into energy recovery and other innovative solutions.

So, let’s restore some respect for plastic. Create it responsibly, dispose of it responsibly, treat it responsibly – we all have our part to play in looking after this wonderful planet and its resources, such as the food it gives us every day.

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