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They are everywhere! One-time Plastics! Once used, ever discarded!

From the shampoo containers in hotels to the take out styrofoam packages from restaurants -plastics are everywhere and used widely by various industries. 

Because plastics are lightweight, versatile, resistant and cheap to produce, it’s the material of choice for many business looking for ways to cut costs and maximize profits in the short term. Despite its many favourable characteristics, plastics are very harmful to our environment and our planet and create a ripple effect on the environment for future generations.

Although recycling has become more widely practiced throughout the world and there’s more awareness about it, not every country has adopted it in their everyday life. So it’s not surprising that much of the plastic materials produced over the last 70 years has ended up in landfills, and often ends up in water supplies, causing devastating environmental pollution.

Annual global plastic production has skyrocketed from 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to 395 billion metric tons in 2018. Cumulative production of plastics has exceeded 8 billion metric tons worldwide and we expect further increases in the coming decades. This increase in plastic production is mostly attributed to the packaging industry –  a sector that supports the various industries like restaurants, retail, hospitality and many others. 

Although recycling has become more widely practiced throughout the world and there’s more awareness about it, not every country has adopted it in their everyday life.

Plastic use in Hotels and Resorts

Hotels and resorts are all about the guest experience. Regardless of whether the hotel is an economy brand or luxury, they want to provide the conveniences to their guests. This often means providing their travelers with items that they have forgotten to pack like toiletries.  

They offer shampoo, conditioners, lotions, soaps, toothpaste and many other free take-aways that are easy to dispose and cheap to provide. Unfortunately, what comes cheap for the hotel are often packaged in plastics that are not friendly to recycle and create harmful effects on the environment.

Examples of such products include small bottled liquid containers, plastic combs, stir sticks, plastic laundry bags, toothbrushes and many other one-time use, disposable items. Guests come to expect these disposable luxuries and some hotels take pride in offering these toiletries as free gifts and even as branded mementos for guests. There are those who even make it a point to collect the free toiletries for all their future travel and excursions. Some even hoard these little containers to use at home as a substitute to buying regular sized shampoos, conditioners, lotions and toothpaste. If you can get smaller quantities for free, why not take as many as you can and save money on buying your own toiletries at home.

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Plastic use in Restaurants

In our fast-paced society, many of us will order take-out or curbside pick-up during COVID to save time. Whether it’s a full service restaurant or a mall kiosk, we can order by phone, online or through an app in just a few minutes with delivery to our doorstep. It’s convenient and hassle free. In order to satisfy our expectations of quick delivery service, restaurants will package our meal orders in the cheapest possible packaging material to cut down costs. After all, they have to pay their delivery service, their staff and other operational costs and during difficult times where they can only operate at half the capacity, every penny counts.

More often than not, however, cutting costs means using cheap packaged materials like Styrofoam and plastics. Styrofoam is a good thermal insulator. It keeps food temperature consistent whether it’s hot or cold. This non-recyclable material is portable as it maintains food quality and safety.

Polystyrene foam, famously called by its trademarked name, Styrofoam, is made from toxic ingredients like plastic, polyester and synthetic resins. Its lightweight, versatile characteristic makes it the perfect packaging material for food but unfortunately, it takes 50-100 years to decompose in the landfill.

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Plastics in Retail Stores

For years, stores have packaged our materials in plastic bags because it’s readily available, cheap and practical. Though many stores have now started to charge eco fees as a way to curb the convenience that plastics offer, many still choose to use plastics. There are other alternatives offered like fabric bags, bring your own bag and paper bags, but it takes conscious effort and planning to remember to bring our bags when we shop. 

The convenience of saying yes to plastic bags within a few minutes at the checkout will impact the earth for 500 – 1000 years – that’s how long it takes for plastic to break down. With the millions of plastic bags disposed annually, it seems that our current efforts to replace plastic with ecofriendly alternatives are not enough to reverse the damage done to the earth from the years of plastic pollution. 

Environmental Damage

Plastics create an environmental hazard for the earth. They are discarded in the ocean and other water bodies clogging up our waterways, drainage systems and canals. They destroy marine life and the microplastics that emanate from it are absorbed by marine organisms.

Efforts to recycle plastic leads to the release of dangerous toxins in the form of CO2 emissions during the incineration process. Plastic can never be 100% recycled and often end up in landfills for hundreds of years or in our waterways and other areas of our environment. 

Together, we can change the tide of plastic pollution through advocacy for better products alternatives and switching to biodegradable alternatives in our daily life. This includes products made from naturally occurring materials like algae, corn and bamboo. Recycled paper products that can be disposed and decomposed within weeks versus hundreds of years. 

Governments are doing their part by implementing bans on plastics such as straws and allocating funds raised through eco fees to recycling programs. Many more countries are finding ways to use policy to change consumer behavior. 

For industry, they need to be more conscious and aware of the impact their decisions will have on future generations. Although recycled products or other biodegradable alternatives may not be the most cost effective option, they must think in terms of long term effects on our planet and be open to innovative renewable alternatives like bamboo and other natural, organic alternatives. 

Learn more about sustainable products and other alternative materials for your business.




Let's Hear from You

2 thoughts on “3 Industries that Cause a Negative Impact on the Environment Today

  • Ulyssa MerrillJuly 20, 2021 at 5:14 am


    Good work!

    I want to add my personal experience of how hard it was for me to shift from plastic to paper bags.
    I must say that the credit goes to campaigns that contributed to awareness.
    Now, people commonly use biodegradable versions of plastics, which is a good step towards improvement.

    Keep doing the excellent work.

  • Dalia ShavesOctober 4, 2021 at 4:50 am

    Very well-written!
    I understand that it is the responsibility of the policymakers and owners of industries to focus on environmental sustainability. However, every person also must say No to the use of non-biodegradable plastics and other wastes. Every voice matters so we should raise ours.
    It was nice to read this article.

Comments are closed.