Trying to be a responsible citizen, I always take my “reusable” bag with me when doing my errands in the local supermarket in the centre of Brussels. The bag looks like this:
This time, I ended up in the supermarket without my reusable bag. When this happens, I always buy a bioplastic (compostable plastic) bag at 0.10€ (ten euro cent). The bag looks something like this.
When I have too many goods, I go for the regular “reusable” plastic bag at 0.25 €.
However, change is coming.
At the cashier I was told that plastic bags had been removed and replaced by paper bags. I asked the cashier: “Are there no more plastic bags?” She answered: “Non, Le plastic c’est fini. Il n’y a plus de plastic”
Translation: Plastic is finished! There’s no plastic anymore!
The tone that she used was like …. we finally got rid of this evil material.
I had to take a paper bag that looks like this:
The bag costs 0.25 € … yes you’re right … 0.25 € for a paper bag is a bit expensive! This represents a very profitable operation for the retailer. On the side of the bag you can read:
Translation: We all want to do good, this bag is our next step in the fight against plastics.
You will notice the QR code on the bag. When you click on it; you’re redirected to the following page The Lion’s Footprint that says:
Less plastic. Less CO 2. Less waste.
With our action plan The Lion’s Footprint, we are committed to the climate. We have launched various initiatives to reduce our ecological footprint. For this, we focus on 3 main pillars: less plastic, less CO 2 and less (food) waste. Quickly find out what changes we have already made.
The image of plastic has been irreversibly tarnished in the eyes of the consumers. Plastic and bioplastic have become the evil material in the eyes of the common citizen.
Some companies try to greenwash bioplastics as “plastic-free”. Personally, I think this is wrong and misleading. We shouldn’t have to hide anything: plastic and bioplastic are great and sustainable materials.
Many EU public officials from the European Parliament and Commission go to the same supermarket as I do so we share a common experience as to how plastic is perceived.
The plastic industry didn’t suffer too much during the covid crisis. Some may assume that the plastic crisis is over. However, this may be a wrong assumption and it may be the calm before the storm.
Remember there’s a difference between how a packaging professional (b-to-be and brand owners) and a regular citizen perceive plastics. The packaging expert is educated on plastics while the average citizen is not. The packaging professional should be aware of the difference between “perceived” and “real” ecological impact of plastics.
Most industry professionals know the advantages of plastics in terms of ecological footprint. Plastic probably wins every comparative LCA when compared to other materials.
In the mind of the customer, it may be different. Most people start to believe that plastic is evil.
The plastic and bioplastic industry are loosing the harts of the people.
The current strategy is not working. The plastic and bioplastic industry should wake up!
“An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” – John F. Kennedy