Each year we ingest 50,000 particles of microplastics, mainly through bottled water. We consume food that lives on packaging: we cannot buy tomatoes without the plastic box, we drink water from plastic bottles and we have become accustomed to the gesture of ‘discarding’ every time we have to eat something. But what about plastic? 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans every year. It is like a plastic truck spilled into the sea every minute. Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, with a growth progression that has led production to increase twentyfold over fifty years. The largest producer of plastic is China, followed by Europe, while Italy stands out, according to the latest report of the Beverage Marketing Corporation, for being the first European country for per capita consumption of plastic bottled water. A primacy that conquers with its 178 liters per year per inhabitant. But do we really need all this plastic?
Plastic? No, thank you
WHAT TO DO AS CITIZENS
As individuals we can act more consciously by directing our daily choices to plastic-free solutions, for example, by changing the way we shop by directing our food purchases to products or realities that do not use plastic packaging. . In addition to this we can do 6 simple actions:
Dispose of plastic in separate collection and do not disperse it in the environment
Eliminate the use of plates, disposable plastic glasses and straws
Use a water bottle or jug of tap water
Avoid toothpastes and other products that may contain microplastics
Use reusable envelopes to shop
I would keep food in reusable containers, better if in glass
WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO
Remove plastic bottles
Install network columns with direct microfiltered dispensing
Equip break areas with containers for waste differentiation
Replace all plastic glasses with paper cups
Use a post-consumer waste compactor
WHO IS MOST AT RISK?
Food packaging, but also contact with everyday objects, exposes us to the unsuspecting intake of phthalates and Bisphenol A, plasticizers and additives classified as endocrine disruptors. Chemicals that have an impact on health especially in young people.
The confirmation of their presence in the bodies of Italian children and adolescents comes, from the ISS (the Italian National Institute of Health), with the first conclusions of the LIFE PERSUADED bio-monitoring study, which correlated the levels of plastic substance detected in the urine with childhood pathologies (early puberty, thelarche and obesity). According to data collected and analyzed by researchers from the ISS and PCNR of Pisa (The Italian National institute of Research), 100% of the children who were subjected to the analyzes, aged between 4 and 14years , reported the presence of Phthalates (DEHP) in the urine and 76% revealed the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA). Data already emerged from a British research, published in February last year by the University of Exeter, In Britain, which verified the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA), in the urine of 86% of adolescents in the sample examined.
A EUROPEAN PLASTIC FREE POLICY
On 5 June, the European Parliament issued an EU DIRECTIVE (2019/904) on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The aim is to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (especially seas) and human health, promoting the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products, and materials.
While waiting for governments to activate policies that lead to a reduction in the use of plastic, initiatives or actions can be taken in everyday life that can already help reduce the use of plastic and better manage waste so that it does not end up in the seas.
WHAT SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIONS CAN DO
The institutions also have the right to influence this change, which is above all a ‘cultural change’ that passes through an educational path. The school, therefore, has a great responsibility and can promote choices that lead to a progressive elimination of the use of plastic and spread among family’s good plastic free practices. Among these, the school could ban the use of plastic bottles and promote the use of water bottles, as well as work at an educational level on the recycling and correct collection of plastic waste.
Municipalities can do a great deal in drawing up sustainable calls for school catering services that incorporate CAM, but above all that it involves the use of raw materials without packaging. This would not only reduce the use of plastic but would also avoid the use of processed food that is good for both the planet and children’s health.