Wed, 10 May 2023
Canada has implemented a ban on single-use plastic products as part of its goal to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. However, environmentalists are concerned about the increasing use of paper packaging as a substitute. Nicole Rycroft, the founder of Canopy, a nonprofit organization working to protect forests, warns that the shift to paper is leading to deforestation and forest degradation. She estimates that over three billion trees, including old-growth and endangered trees, are logged annually to produce paper-based products. In addition to deforestation, the production of paper requires significant amounts of energy and water. While paper is more biodegradable and easier to recycle than plastic, the grade of paper affects its recyclability. Furthermore, when paper ends up in landfills, it decomposes and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The paper industry is exploring alternative solutions such as using agricultural waste like straw, hemp, flax, tomato stems, and banana peels to make sustainable single-use products. Biodegradable resins are also being used but are often expensive and have limited applications. Waste policies should transition away from a single-use model, and consumers are encouraged to choose reusable packaging whenever possible to achieve more sustainable outcomes.
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