One of the most important environmental issues the world is currently dealing with is plastic waste. Millions of tons of plastic garbage are dumped into the oceans each year, severely harming ecosystems and marine life. This makes me really sad because I grew up in The Bahamas and have seen firsthand how our reefs are deteriorating and our seas are being polluted. Waste from packaging is one of the main causes of this issue. Plastic bags, bottles, containers, and wrappers are only a few examples of packaging waste that comprises everything used to package and carry goods. Recycling, minimizing packing, and enforcing stronger rules are just a few steps that can be taken to reduce waste in our oceans.

Recycling is one of the most effective ways to reduce packaging waste in the world’s oceans. This is defined as collecting and processing used materials to create new products. Recycling not only reduces the amount of waste that ends up in the ocean but also conserves natural resources and energy. However, despite the benefits of recycling, only a small percentage of plastic waste is currently recycled. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally. Governments and businesses should invest in infrastructure and education programs that encourage environment-friendly solutions. Consumers can also play a role by choosing products with recyclable or biodegradable material and by properly disposing of their waste.

Another effective way to reduce packaging waste in the world’s oceans is to reduce packaging materials. Many products come in unnecessary or excessive packaging. Single-use plastic bags, for example, which are commonly used for grocery shopping, are a major source of pollution in the ocean. These bags can affect turtles who are looking for jellyfish to snack on and are then surprised to consume a bag. Governments can impose taxes or bans on single-use plastic bags, and consumers can switch to reusable bags to reduce their use. In 2020, the Bahamas implemented a single-use plastic ban, which has worked wonders! Wrappers on fruits and vegetables are another example of excessive packaging. Some retailers have begun offering unpackaged produce, and consumers can also choose to buy from local farmers’ markets, which often sell food without packaging.

Implementing stricter regulations is also essential to reducing waste in the world’s oceans. Governments can set standards for the design and production of packaging materials to ensure they are recyclable or biodegradable. They can also establish penalties for businesses that do not comply. Additionally, they can work with the packaging industry to develop sustainable alternatives to traditional materials. For example, bioplastics are a renewable and biodegradable alternative to traditional plastics. However, it is essential to ensure that the production of bioplastics does not compete with food production or lead to deforestation.

Businesses can use more sustainable packaging materials, such as paper, cardboard, or biodegradable plastics to combat the issue. Another strategy is to encourage consumers to buy products in bulk, reducing the need for individual packaging. Finally, governments, businesses, and consumers can all work together to increase awareness of packaging waste’s environmental impact and promote sustainable alternatives.

The need for better solutions on eco-friendly packaging is frantic right now due to the millions of ocean life being destroyed at a rapid rate. I want to see waters debris-free and animals thriving when I look at videos and pictures of the oceans in the next fifteen years and so do many other activists. Dura-pack is a great example of companies taking a “green” initiative toward a healthier relationship between plastic and the earth’s ecosystems.

Essay by: Kelsey Hill
University of Phoenix

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