Why are we still using plastic?

Why are we still using plastic?

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut, you will know that plastic is a problem. Plastic pollution is an unavoidable growing global concern as more and more fragments and toxins find their way into our oceans and skies. No matter how hard we try to cut out plastic straws and buy reusable coffee cups, it’s impossible to avoid plastic in our modern lives. And this problem is only magnified by the confusion and complication surrounding plastic recycling. How do we win, right Rebels? If we can’t avoid it, we’ll have to find a way of using plastic as part of a wider sustainable and circular system.

A plasticy problem

So news flash, nearly all of Rebel Kitchen packaging is actually recyclable. Well, technically. We work hard so you can recycle our plastic bottles, but the truth is that our current recycling systems are just not set up to cope with our worldwide plastic obsession. At the moment, plastic plays a central role in food supply chains and is used to ensure the safe transit of food and lengthen the shelf life of food, which helps reduce food waste. Yet, our growing demand for flexible and light-weight packaging that suits our ‘on the go’ lifestyles has helped to drive consumption of food and beverage plastic that is near impossible to recycle.

It sounds easy to throw something in the recycling bin but in reality, our food and waste systems are far more complicated than they seem, especially when it comes to plastic! Only two out of the seven common types of plastic can actually be recycled and then you need highly sophisticated sorting facilities to identify and process different plastics. Not to mention, this degrades the quality, making the material progressively less valuable each time. And all this costs money! The current systems mean that it’s usually more cost effective for local authorities to just incinerate or landfill their plastic waste. In theory, plastic bags, polystyrene packaging and even the dreaded coffee cups can be recycled but the economics and logistics of it mean that it just doesn’t happen.

Here’s the tricky bit…

At the moment, plastic is the best option for our coconut water. To preserve our coconut water, we use a process called High-Pressure Processing (HPP) a non-thermal form of pasteurisation which effectively kills pathogens and spoilage microorganisms while avoiding excessive heat (warning technical language!). HPP allows for the same level of food safety as heat pasteurisation but doesn’t damage the nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Flavour, colour and texture are also unaffected by pressure and it eliminates the need for any added preservatives. To put it simply, plastic is the best material for bottling for us to give you the best possible product.

Yes, we’re currently limited by the food system we are part of but we’re not going to let it stop us! We’re more committed than ever to finding the most sustainable packaging options available. We are always questioning this received wisdom and demanding to be part of a more environmentally conscious system and society.

There is hope yet!

While we work to tackle the major problems in our systems, it is important to know that currently, our plastic bottles are 100% recyclable. This is particularly great news as plastic bottles are amongst the easiest forms of plastic to recycle and can be processed up to 12 times. New technology is on its way that increases the quality of these recycled plastics, getting them to near ‘virgin quality’ every time. Plus, with the likely introduction of the Bottle Deposit Scheme that provides consumers with incentives to recycle their plastic bottles in a ‘reverse vending machine’ the numbers of recycled bottles will keep increasing.

We want a system overhaul

This is our best option for now, but let us assure you, we’re not accepting this. The problem needs to be solved at the source; we have to stop looking for the next place to dump our plastic and accepting the current situation. We all need to take collective responsibility for changing our systems and unsustainable practices. If we still need to use plastic, it’s even more vital we work as a community of businesses, food producers, retailers and consumers to change our behaviours and find a way to use plastic responsibly as part of a sustainable, circular system.

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