Status quo and sector readiness for (bio)plastic food and beverage packaging in the 4IR
Keywords:bio-based, biodegradable, feedstock, polymer
Single-use plastics emanating from the food and beverage industry are polluting the environment, and there is increasing public pressure to find ‘green’ solutions to plastic pollution. The introduction of more bio-based and biodegradable plastics (possibly manufactured by disruptive technologies), increased plastic recycling, and enhanced degradation of plastics (micro, meso, and macro) in the environment can holistically contribute to solving the problem for future generations. In order to inform future research, it is imperative that robust background data and information are available. This review provides details about the volumes and categories of food and beverage packaging manufactured and recycled, and available data (qualitative and quantitative) on environmental plastic pollution in South Africa, and to a lesser extent, in Europe and globally. In addition, current and future trends and technologies for recycling, enhanced degradation, and manufacturing of plastics are discussed, with an emphasis on the manufacture of bioplastics.
Plastic pollution needs to be tackled through a holistic combination of reduced use, enhanced recycling efforts, public education about littering, replacement of selected conventional plastics by degradable alternatives, and enhanced degradation of plastics in the environment.
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Grant numbers 870292