Recommendations for Sustainability of Grocery Store Packaging
The waste stream from packaging in the Netherlands is unnecessarily large and complex. This makes proper recycling of plastic packaging in particular difficult. The complexity arises from the large amount of different types of materials used to package products. In addition, it is very difficult for consumers to determine in which waste bin a certain package should go. This is evident from the report “Sustainability of packaging in the supermarket” from Natuur & Milieu.
The Dutch packaging industry is responsible for 3 million tons of waste annually. Packaging is a major (and growing) part of our daily household waste, and as such has tremendous impact on our planet—both in terms of environmental burden and littering. On the other hand, packaging serves to protect its contents, which decreases food waste.
Natuur & Milieu strives to create a circular economy in which packaging can be reused or optimally recycled, thereby reducing the need to use new resources.
In the transition towards circularity, reducing the negative environmental impact of packaging by as much as possible is an important step. However, the environmental benefits of packaged products would need to be maintained.
The Natuur & Milieu study on reducing the environmental impact of packaging in the Netherlands includes hands-on recommendations for both the government and the packaging industry. Both will need to simplify the waste stream, enable high-quality recycling and create clarity for consumers.
This will require companies to design reusable or easily recyclable packaging that includes clear instructions for waste management. The Dutch government needs to change legislation so marketing choices are no longer a valid reason to make packaging less-than-optimally sustainable. And manufacturers should focus on simplicity and uniformity in their choice of packaging. After all, a less complex waste stream is easier and cheaper to recycle.
Adessium Foundation wants to contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and speed up the transition to a circular economy. That is why we support Natuur & Milieu in their work for a sustainable future for everyone.