The Good and Bad Points of Plastic: Why Some Plastic Packaging Is Just Fine

As an environmental packaging provider, it might seem strange for us to enter into the “is plastic good or bad” debate. We promote our range of environmental packaging products wherever possible with a public commitment to convert 100 per cent of our existing customer base to friendly-future alternatives by 2021. With that said, it’s important to take a step back from our idealistic goals and recognise the realism of plastic pollution, both it’s good and bad points.

We’ve been pretty vocal about our firm stance on the introduction of plastic bag tax in the UK. We spoke about this passionately in an earlier blog post on the topic last month — Why We Should Not Use Plastic Bags Anymore shared our disapproving opinion on the matter. The harmful effects of plastic bags on animals alone are enough for us to keep shouting about the bad points of this plastic type over and over.

Similarly, the debate on plastic pollution, in our eyes, doesn’t need to be discussed. It’s very simple — the facts prove that the level of plastic pollution we currently face is unacceptable and damaging to all types of existence both in the short and long-term future.

So why do we want to discuss the good points, as well as the bad, when it comes to plastic? If we’re being realistic, there’s no denying that people are using plastic more than ever. From a convenience point of view, plastic is perceived as a good material for multi-purpose use. In this blog post, we uncover how we can take plastic’s good points to create an environmental alternative that will dispel the overwhelming bad points that it also possesses.

Attempting to scare people with shocking facts about plastic consumption is not enough. As a packaging provider, we need to educate people on why plastic is fundamentally bad. Yet, how should we spend time thinking about product development to offer the same value that plastic currently gives the mass majority of consumers, in a sustainable, safe manner?  

plastic good or bad

Why Is the Use of Plastic Still so Popular?

Just as there is a new fast-food franchise on every street corner with a McDonalds and Starbucks in every direction you turn, plastic packaging is also everywhere because of the convenience it offers to the customer.

Let’s look at this logically and push aside the importance of plastic pollution and all its bad points for just a second. Even without its detrimental effects on the environment, buying a single-use plastic water bottle each time you want to take a drink doesn’t make financial sense either.

Yet people still buy plastic water bottles every day. We’re talking mass amounts of consumption — almost 1 million bottles of water are bought per minute worldwide. This is how plastic is useful for our daily life, but we all know on some level that plastic is bad and continue to buy it anyway.

Plastic is used in other sectors, not just the average joe’s daily inconveniences. In the food sector, plastic preserves food for longer periods of time, which in turn reduces food waste and prevents over-farming. In the health sector, plastic is a reliable material used for a whole host of purposes such as catheters, protective gloves and lifesaving valves, meaning plastic provides world-class healthcare that is hygienic and prevents infection.

At face value, plastic is bad and there is no denying that. But when it saves significant amounts of fuel in transportation services, creates thousands of jobs for a growing economy and improves energy consumption, it’s clear that the “is plastic good or bad” debate isn’t so black and white.

At Takeaway Packaging, we deal with food packaging and more specifically, in the fast-food sector. We’re lucky that our average end customer only requires a product that insulates hot food for a short period of time and acts as an effective, durable container for their Friday night takeaway.

The new-age customer also cares about the aesthetic of their product (even if it only lasts for a few glorious seconds), which is why we are so excited about our bespoke design service that uses veggie-based inks to make instagrammable ice-cream pots and more.

All in all, to beat plastic consumption worldwide, we have a long way to go. In our small contribution to plastic reduction, we have tried to highlight different types of plastic that might be classified as “good” including Ingeo™ PLA Bioplastic, which is used in the production of our biodegradable coffee cups.

What Makes Plastic Packaging “Good”?

We have an important responsibility that links to the single-use plastic debate. We supply single-use packaging to various high-end food suppliers in the UK and as such, we are responsible for making sure that our products provide an ethical, easy way for brands like Nandos and Pizza Hut to serve their customers.

We are proud to say that most of our products don’t contain plastic. We have found other ways to emulate the valuable qualities of plastic in less harmful substances like Kraft paper, for example.

That isn’t the case for our biodegradable coffee cups though. In this product, we are transparent about the type of bioplastic that we use — if any plastic packaging can be considered good it has to the bioplastic kind. Ingeo™ PLA Bioplastic is a naturally occurring substance that is biodegradable. A commonly asked question by those trying to do their research on plastic (and we applaud those curious minds) is, can plastic be biodegradable? To that question, yes on rare occasions when sourced correctly, plastic is biodegradable. Biodegradable plastic is plastic that is derived from raw materials that more often than not also supports sustainable farming.

If you have to use plastic, this is the rare good kind of plastic that we consider to be just fine.

Plastic in sea

The Fundamental Bad Points of Plastic Consumption

There are plenty of resources scattered around the internet that highlight the bad points of plastic, and rightly so. As we’ve expressed, plastic is something we should try to omit from our daily lives when it’s possible to use another alternative.

If you want to know the basic facts about plastic, some of the greatest resources you should commit to reading are:

The good and bad points of plastic will continue to be discussed and the fierce debate will go on indefinitely. Although without a doubt, the disadvantages of plastic outweigh the good, even as an environmental packaging provider there are some plastics we consider to be “just fine”.

Plastics that protect our energy consumption, promote sustainable farming and save people’s lives all fall into this category. Here’s to a future where we can find suitable alternatives for all of these scenarios. Until then…

<…explore our online shop where you will find environmental fast food packaging for all types of cuisines and conscious customers. Switch to environmental food packaging today to become a small part of the solution to the world’s plastic problem.