In the 1980s, my memory was that we had one bin collection a week, and even for a large family, this was in a bin which was about 100L. In this house, we do our best to minimise the packaging we have to buy, getting most of our vegetables loose and even occasionally bringing containers to the butcher, but still I find a bin full of soft plastic packaging.

Italy are slightly worse that Ireland’s miserable position in the graph of packaging waste generated. However, last year when we visited, all disposable bags which were provided in shops, including the local bakery and supermarkets, were of the biodegradable plastic type.

Perhaps we should try that in Ireland.

Biodegradable plastics still have their disadvantages. (See https://www.plasticplace.com/blog/biodegradable-plastic-bags-what-you-need-to-know) mainly that they have to be disposed of in the brown bin, but wouldn’t they be much better than all the plastic we are generating now that can’t be recycled at all?

Altogether, we need to find a way of generating less plastic. We don’t need to be wrapping every cucumber and apple in another skin. The affordability of bulk buying stores still has some way to go so that traders can compete with big box (😳) retailers in terms of price.

Maybe the market needs to be incentivised to move: currently manufacturers have to pay Repak (see https://repak.ie/about-us/faq/)to place packaging on the market, but what if they were allowed pay a little less if that packaging was biodegradable?

One supplier, McLernon’s Packaging told me earlier in the year that they were planning on replacing the griplock bags and small tubs which pharmacies sometimes give you medicines in with biodegradable versions. I receive my monthly copy of the Dublin Inquirer in a biodegradable clear plastic envelope (An Post insists on see-through wrapping) so it can be done.

Individual action is great, and we can all do more by choosing to but goods from those who will sell it to us with less or minimal packaging. But as more and more packaging is being put on the market, we need to try and work together for change. We seem to be drowning in plastic. We need to do something!