In food and beverage (F&B) industry, plastic packaging as well as single-use plastics are indispensable cause it creates convenience for consumers and keep food well. The development of online shopping and food ordering services also contribute to higher demand for disposable plastics.
These activities are the main contributors to solid waste, causing an overload of waste seriously damaging the living environment, human health as well as increasing climate change.
It is estimated that there are 78 million tons of plastic packaging is produced worldwide annually, but of which only a very low percentage is recycled, and the rest comes to landfills, ocean or is burned in waste incinerator plants.
In recent years, along with consumers' environmental awareness, many F&B businesses are making efforts to take measures to limit plastic waste generated from product packaging. The most used option is to replace plastic bags and straws with some biodegradable products.
Even so, if these products are not properly disposed of, it will create great harm to the environment. Many products labeled as biodegradable are also not biodegradable under natural conditions.
Metal straws are also popular alternatives but still face many concerns about ensuring food hygiene and safety.
F&B's role in handling plastic waste
According to the Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam), consumer is the most important factor in the circular value chain which aims at dealing with plastic waste.
The way consumers managing disposable packaging and items after use determines whether they are recycled, properly handled or not.
Therefore, the responsibility of businesses, especially those working directly with consumers, is to change consumers' awareness, behaviours, and habits of not only plastic waste but also post-consumer waste.
For example, instead of using alternative materials, businesses can orient consumers' habits through communication activities. In fact, some restaurants and stores run a discount program for customers bringing their own boxes, cups and bags, which is seen as an effective way to raise awareness of environmental protection.
For large-scale manufacturing enterprises, it is responsible to invest in research to change design for easier collecting and recycling, which is called extended producer responsibility (EPR).
Having 14 businesses operating in fast-moving consumer goods, of which most supply food and beverage products, PRO Vietnam set ambitious goal of recycling 100% packaging used by members in 2030.
Besides raising awareness of consumers and designing environmentally friendly products, PRO Vietnam works with collectors and recyclers to improve the efficiency of waste treatment infrastructure, ensure the rights of the labours.