Government Plan To Eliminate Avoidable Waste, But Not For 25 Years

Update (11 January): The government just gave the movement against plastic waste a big boost. Today it announced plans to eliminate all avoidable waste within 25 years – that's by 2042 – although green campaigners have pointed out the plans won't be legally enforced, the BBC reported. Among the proposals are "plastic-free" aisles in supermarkets and taxes on single-use plastics, like disposable coffee cups and water bottles.
There's more good environmental news from Marks and Spencer today, too. The company has announced it will stop selling the £2 cauliflower "steaks" whose excess packaging sparked an online backlash earlier this week (more on those below). A company spokesperson said that while M&S strives to create "quick and convenient meals... on this occasion we didn't get it right," reported the BBC.
Original story (10 January 2018): The backlash against plastic and non-biodegradable waste has intensified recently. People are still talking about last week's proposed 25p "latte levy" on disposable cups; today we learned that small shops could be made to charge for plastic bags as well as large ones; there's a war on wet wipes; and, at long last, the public is increasingly calling out brands for their pointless packaging.
The latest product being lampooned online? A plastic-wrapped coconut – because silly old nature is yet to come up with a way to protect its versatile fruit. The ready-to-drink "Genuine Coconut" is sold for about £3 by Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, and Ocado, and even the boss of Sainsbury's, where it's also sold, admitted it was "daft", the BBC reported. By comparison, a normal plastic-free coconut costs about 60p, although admittedly you'd have to be willing to drill a hole in it yourself if you want to drink straight from the shell.
Photos of the coconut have been circulated online in recent days, with people describing the packaging as unnecessary, although the Spanish company behind it says it's made from recycled and recyclable materials. Nonetheless, the fact that people are increasingly awake to the perils of packaging represents progress.
It follows hot on the heels of Marks and Spencer's cauliflower "steak" which blew up online yesterday. The packaged vegetable, which is literally just a halved cauliflower sold in plastic, was rightly ridiculed online by people drawing attention not only to the excessive packaging but to the exorbitant pricing. The store normally sells it for £2.50 – compared to the 70p cost of a standard cauliflower.
Many more people are now flooding social media with other examples of #pointlessplastics spotted in supermarkets and there are even newly created accounts dedicated to the sport.
Thankfully, change is afoot at some supermarkets. Sainsbury's claims to have cut down on packaging by almost a third over the last five years and last year Whole Foods stopped selling pre-peeled mandarins in plastic packaging after a customer's photo went viral on Twitter.
There are benefits of pre-cut, bagged fruit and vegetables. Yes, they're often stupidly overpriced and possibly less nutritious than their fresh counterparts, but there's no denying they make it easier to eat more healthily on-the-go than we otherwise might (carrot batons and hummus? Yes please), they're convenient for people with disabilities, and probably make healthy eating seem more attainable for those who lack the know-how to cook fresh ingredients from scratch.
Plastic packaging also enables certain fruits and vegetables to last longer on supermarket shelves, reducing the world's food waste. A third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted each year, according to the UN, and indeed, the company behind the "Genuine Coconuts", which come from Thailand, said the plastic gives them a 40-day shelf life without the need for chemicals.
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