Unwrapping a disaster

26 abril 2023

Unwrapping a disaster

The human cost of overpackaging

Consumers are concerned about rising packaging levels. Dealing with outsized delivery boxes is frustrating. Discarding dirty food containers is inconvenient. Deciphering recycling symbols can be bewildering.   

The environmental impact of packaging also concerns citizens – awareness about the damaging consequences of plastic bags and bottles has led industries en masse to drop plastic… but worryingly this often means a switch to paper. 

Today we release case studies from Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Chile and Indonesia which unveil the environmental and human cost of switching to paper-based packaging. You can read them here. 

Three billion trees are cut down annually around the world to meet the demand for paper packaging. The pulp and paper industry is one of the world’s major polluters and one of the heaviest users of fresh water. It also consumes four per cent of the world’s energy and is chemically intensive, polluting rivers and harming ecosystems. Starkest of all – it leaves a trail of human suffering, as a result of the monoculture plantations that suffocate the communities living near them.  

We document some of those stories - from devastating forest fires in Portugal, to intimidation and violence towards Indigenous Peoples in Chile. From Finland’s collapsing carbon sink, to Sweden’s monoculture tree plantations, and the ravaging of Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatlands.   

We call on the EU, which is currently revising its Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, to adopt strong measures to reduce single-use packaging and shift to re-use systems that reduce the impact of packaging on the natural environment and communities for the long-term. See here for NGO recommendations on how to do this. 

Categoría: Paper packaging

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