It seems that ever since 2011 when the movement to ban straws gained worldwide attention there has been a strong focus to eliminate all single-use items from our day-to-day lives. While reducing waste is always a good idea, it seems the focus on such a small item might not be the most prudent approach to a global campaign, when our mailboxes are overflowing with packaging waste on a weekly (if not on a daily) basis. It’s easy to see how the waste that piles up at home trumps the amount of waste you’d get with a few straws.
Canadian strides to ban single-use plastics
In the last few months, Canada has been leading the charge with a campaign and movement to ban single-use plastics nationwide by 2025. This includes regulations over the next few years to curb not only the use of but also the manufacturing and sale of specific single-use plastics. On the surface, this sounds like a major win for the country that will make a massive difference in waste reduction, but upon further inspection it seems that the focus may be too small. Case in point, in an article released by The Guardian, plastic straws and stir sticks grabbed headlines, and public sentimate, but does banning straws and stir sticks really make an impact on reducing single use plastics in Canada?
Other news outlets have shed light on the movement recently including the Toronto Sun which stated that “Based on 2019 data, 15.5 billion plastic grocery bags a year were being sold in Canada, 5.8 billion straws, 4.5 billion pieces of cutlery, 3 billion stir sticks, 805 million takeout containers and 183 million six-pack rings,” and “by December 2025, all designated single use plastics will be prohibited, including manufacturing, importing and sales for export.”
With a strong commitment to prohibit single use plastics and staggering statistics regarding the usage of these products, it’s clear this will make a difference. Still, one could argue, why is the government focusing on such small contributors to plastic waste? Maybe this statistic from the same Toronto Sun article is one the government should be focusing on instead: “The six categories of single use plastics subject to the ban account for an estimated 160,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, just 5% of the overall amount of 3.3 million tonnes of plastic waste.”
The elephant in the room - and in your mailbox
Consider how many straws you use in a year and then compare that to the amount of wasteful packaging you receive in the mail every week – namely polybags. Polybags are the go-to packaging for apparel and lightweight products for the eCommerce industry. While these bags drive down costs for the businesses who utilize them and are simple solutions to mailing light and less fragile items, they produce an overwhelming amount of plastic waste and the greenwashing surrounding the recyclability of polybags is laughable.
How you can make a difference
Awareness is the first step in making eco-friendly business decisions. Simply taking the time to consider the amount of waste you have in your own non-recyclable kitchen trash can on a regular basis can help shine a light on why this is so important. Things like polybags can be easily addressed with paper-based packaging. If governments like the Canadian one who are choosing to make a stand chose to focus on making a change with polybags over smaller contributors like plastic straws, the impact would be much more impressive and long-lasting.
At Best Mailer, we are proud to run a sustainable business and believe in the power of recycling and environmental responsibility. As such, our mailers are 100% paper-based, 100% recyclable, and 100% compostable and our eco-friendly packaging is ideal for sustainable businesses who want to ship with confidence and conscience. The bottom line is this: not only is paper-based packaging easy for consumers to recycle and solve the problem of large contributions to waste with products like polybags but it is also the best choice for earth friendly brands who want to make a real difference.