Date: 14 February 2020
It is hard to disagree that manufacturers should consider the impact on the environment and make it a priority when packing for their distribution channels. However, even though many are looking into alternatives while considering costs, product appearance and logistics, significant change is unlikely to happen until regulations are put in place to ensure the manufacturing industry put the environmental agenda ahead of costs.
Around the world, legislators, in particular the EU and the US, are working hard on getting plastic under control. Other regions have recently jumped ahead with their own regulations such as India and later Iran, effecting a complete ban on plastic use and putting more and more pressure on the production lines and consumers alike.
The shipping industry operates under a number of global conventions and regulations, where local legislative development and interpretation can vary across regions and even between local port authorities under the same jurisdiction. This, coupled with the large variation in terms of local technological development, makes waste management and product substitution a hard logistical challenge for suppliers and operators.
Many of the recent solutions found in the market are not yet scalable to a level that would make a noticeable difference, and most of them - including biodegradables - cannot simply be disposed of without someone picking them all up. Although there is little the entire shipping industry can do singlehandedly to affect packaging choices made by the manufacturers, there is plenty that each of us can do to reduce our consumption patterns.
Finding new and better ways to minimise plastics in packaging and to control where our waste goes is a shared responsibility and we all need to take action as well as understand that
no waste should end up in the sea!