Why is plastic a problem? Plastic packaging is harmful to the environment as it breaks down slowly, producing microplastics that persist for a long time. Microplastics are plastic pieces that measure less than five millimeters across. These microplastics form at every stage, from the development of the packaging to its opening and recycling. They can last 500 to 1000 years, and over time, these tiny particles end up flooding into our environment. Scientists have found microplastics pretty much everywhere: in the ocean, in the air, in drinking water, and in animals and humans.
At Liquido d'Oro, we produce 150 million portion packs a year. Every pack weighs around 1.5 to 2 grams. Plastic is clean, safe, strong, reliable, and highly durable, reducing food waste. So, we are looking for alternatives with the same characteristics but without the harm. It's not easy, but we believe it's possible. Fortunately, we are not the only company trying to solve this issue, so technology is developing quickly.
Suppliers, legislation, and governments are focusing on recycling plastic. In an ideal world, we'll make new packaging from old packaging. This is possible when plastic is recyclable, like large pieces of plastic and single-layered plastic. But most of our packaging are too small to recycle. When recycling is not an option, we have to think about other solutions. We believe that packaging made of natural materials that are abundantly available is the best alternative. Packaging that can be composted and disappear without a trace, like a fruit peel.
Biobased and biodegradable
Now, first some theory. Maybe you've heard about plastic that is biobased, biodegradable, or both. Biobased materials come from renewable sources like plants. Biodegradable materials break down naturally. The key difference lies in where they come from and how they break down. Biobased indicates renewability, and biodegradable describes the natural decomposition process. It's important to note that being biobased doesn't always mean being biodegradable, and vice versa. Of course, we would like to use packaging that is both.
We have made a packaging roadmap to 2030.
1. The first step is to reduce plastic. For example, by making our packaging smaller.
2. Use single-layered plastic instead of multi-layered plastic. Single (or mono) layered plastic is lightweight and can be recycled.
3. Use recycled plastic, aiming for 50% recycled plastic by 2025.
4. Use biobased and biodegradable materials.
Our ultimate goal is to produce plastic-free by 2030. All plastic packaging will be replaced by naturally biobased and biodegradable packaging. We are currently testing two plastic-free materials. We will keep you updated, so stay tuned to our website for the latest news.