Increasing Impact of Plastic Food Packaging 

Plastic packaging is used to store and transport food, to keep it fresh and safe from getting contaminated. However, the use of plastic packaging also raised concerns about it being negative as it has facilitated convenience, preservation, and distribution, and its environmental impacts are raising concerns. 

Plastic packaging is lightweight, airtight, affordable, and easy to transport, however, Plastic is a non-biodegradable material, preventing it from decomposing naturally. Plastic waste can take up to 100 years to degrade, causing pollution and difficulties for wildlife. It is also a significant contributor to ocean pollution, having devastating effects on marine life. Over 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. Plastic packaging contributes significantly to Global Waste Accumulation.  Some plastic containers contain chemicals like Bisphenol A and Phthalates, which can contaminate the food and pose health risks.  

The proliferation of plastic packaging has given rise to a new menace of Microplastic Pollution, as plastic degrades, it breaks down into smaller particles called Microplastics, these microplastics infiltrate soil, contaminate water and the air we breathe, posing risks to wildlife and human health.  From the depletion of fossil fuel resources to the emission of greenhouse gases through the plastic lifecycle, its impact reverberates throughout the natural world causing ecological harm.  Despite growing awareness of these issues, efforts to address these problems fall short. The environmental toll of plastic packaging extends beyond pollution, encompassing a wide range of interconnected issues.

It has been estimated that, by 2050, a 50% increase in global food supplies will be required due to the increase in global population. As demand for food rises, the demand for food packaging materials rises as well. Packaging materials need to be tailored to be able to maintain the quality of food as well as other rising demands from the consumer, producers, and legislative forces. Such demands have grown very dynamic, with calls not only for the best quality of food but also for the food to be delivered using sustainable packaging which imposes less impact on the health of consumers as well as the environment.   

In conclusion, the increasing impact of plastic food packaging portrays an environmental crisis that demands urgent attention and action. From waste accumulation to microplastic pollution, the impact of plastic packaging has a tremendous impact on the environment as well as humans. Yet, by embracing innovation and adopting different approaches to sustainability, we can confront these challenges and pave our way toward a more resilient and harmonious relationship with the natural world.  

Article by Anushka Jadeja | Edited by Saumya Sharma