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Plastic Packaging Might Be Increasing Food Waste

Plastic packaging might be making food waste worse—a new European study says it’s caused household waste to double to 30 million tons a year in the European Union.

Between 2004, and 2014, plastic packaging increased 40 to 50 percent in the European Union (EU).

The British Plastic Federation says plastic helps keep produce fresh and clean, and it could help prevent food from being thrown away. But the new study states that plastic is probably doing more harm than good, and forcing people to buy more than they need (pdf).

About 37 percent of all food sold in the EU is wrapped in plastic, and the plastic is usually only used once, costing the union about $123 billion a year. Each European throws away more than 66 pounds of plastic a year, and it doesn’t all go in a landfill. Some of it ends up on beaches, or in the ocean.

Friends of the Earth Europe and Zero Waste Europe conducted the study and recommend that the union examine plastic packaging more thoroughly, as well as look for more sustainable alternatives that create less waste.