How dangerous is the plastic in my everyday life for the environment?

How dangerous is the plastic in my everyday life for the environment?

The oceans are full of garbage: Around ten million tons of plastic flood the oceans every year. The reason: the packaging quantities. Disposable plastic is mass produced, but hardly recycled. The structures for collecting and further processing of waste are missing. Does not change anything, in the year 2050 more plastic in the sea than swimming fish, warns the German environmental aid. In the economy plastic avoidance has become a big topic. What effect does this have on consumers? , Rossmann, dm and other traders have introduced a new sign a few weeks ago that points to environmentally friendly packaging. For consumers, it should be obvious at a glance which products have a high recycled content: for example, whether the toothpaste tube was newly produced or made from already used plastic.

The guidance should not only encourage customers to buy the greener products, but also dispose of the packaging properly later. A sorted recycling of recyclable material would mean that plastic packaging could be re-circulated and thus increase the recycling rate, say the managing directors of the companies.

News from waste

Around On the shelves of dm is specifically referred to the products whose packaging consists of at least 70 percent post-consumer recycled material (PCR). Recycled is the product of a recycling process, in plastic it is about the recycled plastic. The higher the proportion, the better for the environment.

Post-consumer waste comes from our homes. These may be mixed packaging waste, such as the yellow bag yoghurt pudding or PET bottles. The latter are well recycled, especially in Germany. Because many consumers dispose of their disposable returnable bottles in the supermarket, whereupon they are ground to a fine granules. From this plastic, also called PET, then new bottles are produced. Because there is hardly anything that can not be reused, the circular economy works very well in this area, says the nature conservation association.

Yoghurt causes problems

But it is more difficult with the plastic waste from the yellow bag or the yellow bin. Most of the mixed packaging waste has to be sorted by hand on the assembly line. A complex and therefore expensive process for companies. In addition: New plastic from fossil fuels such as natural gas is often cheaper. Nevertheless, many corporations are willing to pay this excess and rely on secondary raw materials. Therefore, it is important for the awarding of the logo to explicitly mention PCR, my environmentalist.

What the shelf labeling does not show, however, is how high the recycled content is or from which other raw materials Material exists. Because if a tube to 70 percent from PCR, that is a lot, in a PET bottle is the default value due to the good circulation but much higher. In addition, the drugstore chains and thus also the consumers have to blindly trust the manufacturers from whom the information comes. An external review of individual production lines is not possible, emphasizes the nature conservation association.

Where is tricked

This problem caused even before the introduction of the recycling label for headlines. In July, Deutsche Umwelthilfe warned against “misleading tricks” when referring to recycled materials used. The manufacturer Henkel had recruited for a toilet cleaner with the notice that the suspension for the toilet balls consisted 100 percent of recycled plastic. In fact, however, production waste was used. Henkel resolutely rejects the allegations: “We can not exclude a solution categorically. Any plastic that is reused and not incinerated, not dumped, and not released into the environment will contribute to a well-functioning circulatory system. ”

ecycling means making a used packaging a new one, ie using waste. When corporations try to express themselves as environmentally conscious through PR measures, without showing any real commitment to sustainability, this is referred to as green whitewashing. In the context of plastic – the substance, which gets more and more criticized especially as marine polluters – this happens frequently, says the nature conservation federation.

What is “bio-plastic”? Consumers who are made from renewable raw materials or products that are biodegradable themselves.Without a time limit for degradation, consumers are led astray, because even normal plastic is degradable, but extremely slow.Some “organic” products, however, also decompose not faster, and even biodegradable plastics are not automatically sustainable.

Frog against Henkel

competitor Werner & Mertz filed a lawsuit against Henkel and got from the Stuttgart Regional Court right, the manufacturer The Frosch brand noticed that the toilet bowl was bright white, while the real recyclate is gray. But also environmentalists are putting increasing pressure on the corporations. For example, the detergent manufacturer Dash is currently advertising that its powder detergent is ready to be washed 20 degrees.

You save energy in this way and at the same time protect the environment. The packaging of Dash should be gradually plastic-free. According to the manufacturer, they are already 96 percent plastic-free and fully recyclable. An own logo with the hashtag “Vision Plasticfree” and a killer whale points this out.

Specifications for Label

Environmentally friendly labels are trendy. For consumers, however, it could be difficult to find their way around the label jungle. Therefore, strict standards and clear communication are important, says Philipp Sommer: “If manufacturers use their own recyclable packaging, they should point it out. However, then one must then disclose the exact proportion and the origin of the recyclates. Only in this way can consumers recognize whether old packaging has become new again and thus a real environmental benefit is given. ”

Simple” plastic-free “or” high recycled content “instructions should be treated with skepticism to encounter. Sommer says that from an environmental perspective, reusable packaging is the best choice. “Better still it would be natural to buy unpacked immediately.” The nature conservation association and the environmental aid also demand political guidelines, such as a rate of use of recycled rubber.

Consumers recommend the environmental aid, the “Blue Angel” or to respect the “reusable logo”. An overview can also give the website “seal clarity”. The initiative of the Federal Government shows which labels mean what and if they are credible. With the accompanying app logos can even be scanned directly while shopping.

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