[News] Although takeaway packaging is with popularity, the microplastic alarm has not been lifted?
from a long-term perspective, facing the problem of microplastics in takeaway food packaging, perhaps the core way to solve the problem is still to complete the research and development of new environmentally friendly alternatives as soon as possible
China is a big market for take-aways, with more than 20 million takeaways produced almost every day. Singly in 2020, there are 17 billion orders activated in China's take-away industry. There is no exaggeration to say that take-away has become a dining mode that contemporary residents are very accustomed to and are willing to use.
However, while the development of takeout has brought convenience to the public, it has also spawned a series of environmental problems, of which white pollution is the most representative. According to statistics, an average of 3 to 4 lunch boxes are required for each take-away order, 70% of which are made of plastic. In addition, most of the packaging bags used for packaging lunch boxes are also plastic bags. According to the research report of the relevant research team of the School of Environment of Tsinghua University, in 2020 alone, the weight of plastic waste in the national takeaway waste reached about 1.6 million tons, and it cost about 2.45 billion yuan.
Maybe you don’t have a concept yet, so let’s explain it in another way. Suppose we lay out the plastic bags used for take-out every day, and it only takes 3 days to cover a West Lake (China’s beautiful scenic spot named xī hú in Hangzhou, Zhejiang). If we pile up the take-away boxes that are generated every day, then 770 Mount Everests can be stacked in one day (Data source: YOUNG Finance).
However, what is even more frightening is that this has not taken into account another problem caused by these plastic packaging boxes - microplastics.
Microplastics generally refer to plastic particles with a diameter of less than 5 mm, which are one of the four major categories of new pollutants that have received widespread international attention in recent years. Due to its small size and light weight, this plastic has strong diffusivity, and at the same time, because of its large specific surface area, it is easily used as an ideal carrier to spread viruses and bacteria. All in all, a very bad pollutant.
Previously, researchers throughout the world found through spectral analysis that plastic fragments were unintentionally added during the manufacturing process in the plastic packaging for takeaways and drinking water, and these plastic fragments would enter us through food and drinks due to the friction of atmospheric dust. Within the body, and in the process of abandonment, it will also spread into our lives and have an impact on the environment in which we live. To make matters worse, many of the effects have nothing to do with the plastic material. According to the research results of East China Normal University, it includes microwave-heatable polypropylene (PP) lunch boxes, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lunch boxes that are heat-resistant to 70°C, traditional polystyrene (PS) All white foam lunch boxes release microplastics during daily use.
There are other studies showing that this effect is not only seen in traditional plastic packaging, but also in food-grade tools that involve plastic in a broad sense, such as non-stick coatings on food-grade baking tools that release nanometers into hot water Particles, the low-density polyethylene waterproof coating of disposable coffee cups will continuously release smiling plastic particles into the drink due to the influence of the hot drink, and so on.
Although, with the current technology, it is possible to avoid the spread of microplastics by using more environmentally friendly bamboo packaging boxes with bamboo pulp paper bags, but the high cost of use limits the implementation of this method (the cost of bamboo 2-3 times higher than the cost of plastic).
Therefore, from a long-term perspective, facing the problem of microplastics in takeaway food packaging, perhaps the core way to solve the problem is still to complete the research and development of new environmentally friendly alternatives as soon as possible. Of course, in the short term, it may also be critical to cultivate public awareness of environmental protection and encourage the reduction of take-away plastic packaging.
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