Plastics News readers are all too aware that plastic often gets a bad rap. So are readers of PRW, our sister paper based in Croydon, England, where Editor Hamish Champ blogged about a bit of frustrating news from California.
Here's what Hamish had to say:
Many's the time critics of plastics will point to its potential to damage the environment, particularly when it comes to packaging.
Marine waste choking the life out of a seabird; detritus such as plastic bottles lying scattered on the High Street; a discarded bag floating across the rooftops, borne on some ill-blowing wind. You know the drill.
For some, plastic is a modern evil, something that we can do without. That's not what we think, obviously.
When I first joined PRW five years ago I wondered at the efficacy of plastic packaging and came across an experiment which showed how much a cucumber's shelf life can be extended by being encased in shrink rap.
This extends to many other products, clearly, and much has been written in the technical press about how plastic packaging helps preserve both the life and flavor of food. It is often indispensable in getting it to the plate in good condition.
But there are times when common sense loses its way, and when it does the reputation of plastic gets a kicking.
A while back it was coconuts wrapped in plastic. As unnecessary as it was stupid.
And now, we hear of a retailer in California selling individual peeled mandarins in little plastic containers.
Never mind that the packaging already given the fruit by Nature usually does a pretty good job; apparently the customers of a Whole Foods Market liked the convenience of “cut produce” and thus the pre-peeled and plastic packaged mandarin was born.
Some products don't need that level of packaging, whatever material it's made of.
But such a stupid idea — and in my view it is a really stupid idea — isn't the fault of the plastics industry. No, it is the fault of a retailer pandering to lazy consumers who can't be bothered to spend 30 seconds of their lives peeling off a mandarin's skin.
And it happens a lot.
That the retailer in question has now removed these products from sale is a moot point; inevitably this sort of thing ends up reflecting badly on the plastics industry.
It's regrettable that the mainstream media chooses to highlight this sort of thing at the expense of reporting the benefits the vast majority of plastic packaging brings to most of our daily lives.
Here's hoping for more common sense in the future. We all stand to benefit.
You can reach Hamish at [email protected]