It would be a tragedy to survive the Covid-19 pandemic but then succumb to another human-caused calamity – the climate crisis of Earth Matters™.
Pandemics are not the only problems face by the human race. The climate crisis endangers every present and future citizen of the planet. It’s a creeping slow killer, having the potential for a far wider terminal effect than the coronavirus on life as we know it.
Global action regarding the climate crisis has met with mixed success because Covid-19 is seen as the more critical and immediate threat to life.
However, from both Covid-19 and climate change aspects, it’s time to recognise that packaging is the solution, not the problem.
If we truly care about the health of our communities, countries and our common global future, all aspects need urgent effective and efficient action.
This overwhelming urgency demands that problems are addressed cohesively, and this is undoubtedly linked to FMCG packaging.
Needing consideration are issues such as the lifespan of the Covid-19 virus on various forms of FMCG packaging; how packaging should be safely handled throughout the supply chain and in consumers’ homes; and how the climate crisis is inseparable from that chain.
Understanding the jargon
To go from knowledge to wisdom requires understanding, especially phenomena such as woke-washing, the looped/circular economy, greenwashing and the lifespan of the coronavirus on packaging.
Woke-washing is the appropriation of ethical values as a form of advertising, to make more profit while hiding the dark side of conventional business management. According to Unilever CEO, Alan Jope, woke-washing is threatening advertising’s credibility and trust.
A looped economy is also in-vogue newspeak (the fictional language of Oceania, the totalitarian state in George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four).
So far as the looped/circular economy is concerned, there is no ‘loop’; it’s a linear chain. What’s taken out is put in and then expelled.
In a circular economy, everything produced through economic activity must be transferred and used somewhere else, continuously. Three principles guide this approach: firstly, designing out waste and pollution; secondly, keeping products and materials in use; and thirdly, regenerating natural systems.
This perspective appears to be an alignment along the unattainable lines of perpetual motion (see sidebar).
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound than others.
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has a different lifespan on different packaging substrates:
- plastics: two days or more
- cartonboard: 24 hours
- paper packaging: length of time varies, from a few minutes to longer, depending on paper grade
- aluminium (cans or foil): two to eight hours.
Consumers need to be informed on procedures to manage packaging at home, for instance the correct way to wipe down groceries or take-aways.
Here are a few pertinent web links to information on the inseparable link between Covid-19 and climate change:
Cheap oil: The pandemic is producing mountains of plastic waste
Covid-19 and climate change: the unexpected pairing
Oceans heat up at seven times current rate
Covid-19, climate change and the environment
Why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as coronavirus?
Atmospheric CO2 levels rise sharply despite Covid-19 lockdowns
To conclude, to mitigate climate change, we all need to move hand-in-glove towards better humankind – to thrive not just to survive.
About Seal Chemistry
SEAL Chemistry boasts five-decades of service to the FMCG packaging markets, and delivering its Smart Chemistry for Packaging Design®. The company’s passion for packaging is reflected in its award-winning status – eight consecutive years as BATSA’s Supplier of the Year – and specification of its products by multinationals such as Mondelēz .
In the view of MD, Doug Knox, there are impossible stumbling blocks to the newly-coined phrase ‘looped economies’.
‘The greatest challenge to sustainability is the task of recycling the vast array of different plastics used, exponentially multiplied by the diversity of coextrusions and laminates, not to mention difficulties with materials such as metallised films,’ Doug comments.
‘For this reason, all the good will focused on “looping” or recycling products in perpetuity is doomed to overall failure,’ he maintains. ‘Separating the waste is technically and economically impossible.’
In his view, biodegradable and/or compostable packaging are also critically flawed.
For this reason, Seal Chemistry works with global leaders among packaging converters and brand owners, heightening awareness for Upcycled Packaging®.
The definition of Upcycled Packaging® is reducing waste impact and or pollution; maintaining total fitness for purpose; and being economically viable by way of costs and/or production processes.
Ed’s note: This article was compiled by Seal Chemistry. The company believes the information to be reliable. Information is provided without any warranty, express or implied, regarding its correctness, or any other relevant factor.