15 Mar 2018

The "plastic-free market" is no big deal

A few weeks ago, there was a huge small wave of news reports on the "plastic free" aisle installed in a Dutch health foods store.

That store (Ekoplaza) happens to be 5 minutes away from my house, so I rode by to check it out.

As you can see, the "aisle" (in what used to be a bike parking garage) is just a collection of foods packaged in glass, "bio-plastic" or nothing at all. That's not revolutionary.

What's worse, the "plastic free aisle" also has a "Bluewater" kiosk outside that is supposed to reduce the use of single-serve plastic bottles by giving you a place to fill your reusable (plastic or metal) bottle. Although this is a nice idea, I think that the kiosk probably represents a negative environmental impact, given Amsterdam's excellent tap water quality. It seems to be there as a giant advertisement for "buy our water filtering product." Fail. Update: It's gone! Yay!

Bottom line: The best way to reduce plastic use is to tax its source (oil, via a carbon tax). The best way to reduce pollution from plastic water bottles is to add deposits to their price, to pay for recycling and re-collection. After these simple actions, then you need to consider the total costs/benefits of switching to plastic from paper or glass. In many cases, plastic has a smaller environmental footprint than its "virtuous" replacement.


Osvaldo Aly said...

Very interesting and very good.
Iwe must adopt a less plastic way of life

Pallavi Bharadwaj said...

Thanks a lot for sharing this news. We as a family were especially devastated when snapple switched to plastic bottles recently, however they tried to explain (to us in an email and also widely online) that its for everyone's benefit in the longer run.. I have taken inspiration and written a blog post on this today. For your reading pleasure, its here: https://theflipsideofdevelopment.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/making-the-world-plastic-free/

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