As a food producer we have a responsibility to tackle the plastic head on. Its not enough just to switch from black plastic to clear, or to say there’s no alternative out there. That’s why here at Westaways we worked with our suppliers to create a whole new packaging concept.
It’s cheap to produce, strong, flexible & has infinite uses, no wonder annual production has increased nearly 200 times to nearly 400 million tonnes from the 1950s. With a lower carbon footprint than paper, you may think what’s the problem?
The problem is the legacy it leaves behind. Only 25% of the world’s population has an established waste management system, and even then, questions remain on the impact these systems have on the environment. Of the cumulative 8,300 million tonnes of plastic that has been produced 79% of it remains either in use, in the soil or in the ocean.
Research has shown micro-plastics to travel as far as 10,000km and that the density has increased by 2.5 times since study started in 2008. Micro-plastics have been found in rain falling on the Pyrenees and the Rockies. Even more worrying micro-plastics are being eaten by mussels, coral and filter feeding plankton.
Our entire retail range is packed in sustainability sourced, recyclable cardboard trays. We have been packing our sausages this way since 2016 & we’re still yet to see anyone else adopt the same packaging.
After a lot of research, we replaced our PVC overwrap film with a fully home compostable alternative. This is made of PBAT (Polybutyrate Adipate Terephthalate) & whilst this is still a type of plastic it will break down in your compost heap at home in just 57 days, yes, we’ve tried it. Better still its actually adds nutrients to your compost & leaves no harmful micro-plastics behind.
We rolled this out in June 2020 & have since won the UK Packaging Awards Innovation of the Year for our compostable packs.
We understand that this alone is not the solution to the plastics crisis that we as a country & the world are facing, but it’s a step in the right direction.
What can you do to help?
Start now. We can all make changes – this is not about a few people living perfectly with a positive impact upon our environment. If all 8 billion people on the planet made small changes, the impact would be huge.
The pandemic helped to do this already. There are certain things we have been forced to do during the lockdowns that we will continue to do as the restrictions ease.
Cutting our insatiable demand for plastic is one area which can have a major impact, furthermore we can all make changes to cut our use of this material. Look at what you throw out at home and at work. How much of it is plastic? What choices can you make to reduce this? Of course, it starts with what you buy.
We at Westaway Sausages now provide our customers with an alternative to plastic. We have achieved what other meat producers said was impossible. We have changed so our customers can change. If all UK Sausage producers changed to our style of packaging this would cut 10,000 tonnes of plastic entering our waste management every year.
Nature is wonderful but so are humans, we just need to work a bit harder at living together with nature for mutual benefit for us and the planet. We need to end the plastic age and this uncontrolled experiment with our future and that of our children and grandchildren.