The massive islands of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean have garnered extensive media attention over the past 18 months, heightening consumer awareness about the excessive plastic pollution both on land and sea. As governments respond by implementing bans on plastic, brand owners are substituting renewable materials for many types of plastic packaging.
How will these trends affect the pulp and paper industry, and will available capacity and fiber supply keep up with demand for fiber-based packaging?
Because only 9% of the plastic produced since the 1950s has been recycled, it’s projected that by 2050 there will be around 12 billion tonnes of plastic litter in landfills and the environment. Plastics don’t biodegrade, they only break down, slowly, into smaller fragments called microplastics, which are making their way into our food chain and subsequently into our bodies.
The health risks of microplastics are not fully understood, but anti-plastic sentiment is already fueling sustainability trends in packaging. As consumer preference for renewable and environment-friendly materials grows, pulp and paper industry participants are evaluating how the anti-plastics movement will affect fiber-based packaging.
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