Combating plastic waste as a global community

The amount of pollution floating in our oceans has skyrocketed over the past decade. Last year, a study conducted by the United Nations noted that if we carry on dumping waste at the rate we are right now, there will be more litter in the ocean than fish by 2050.

The world is currently going through a state of change, and while we are still doing a lot of damage to the planet many environmentally-conscious food and beverage companies are putting measures in place to ensure that they do as little harm to the Earth as possible. Banning single use plastics like straws, replacing plastic bottles with glass and enforcing strict recycling practices are just some of the ways many of these companies are going green.

H2O International has long been part of the charge by helping homes and businesses reduce their use of plastic. Managing Director of H2O International SA, Tony Marchesini says, “While there are many issues that need to be addressed with regards damage to our environment the use of plastic is one of the most important and the most prevalent.”

Whilst some plastics can take up 1000 years to decompose, thinner products such as straws and plastic shopping bags – intended for only one use – can take up to 450 years (the equivalent of ±twelve generations) to decay. In addition, many plastic items will erode and break into small fragments called microplastics (less than five millimeters in length), and scientists are only now starting to scratch the surface on the effects of these microplastics on the human body.

On land we are seeing decomposing plastics from landfills cause microplastics to seep into underground water sources and end up in our water systems, eventually flowing from the same taps that provide our drinking water. At sea, microplastics are mistaken for food and can contaminate an entire food-chain. According to a study by Plymouth University published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin one third of all UK-caught fish were found to have microplastics in their stomachs, and it is believed that eating fish that has been contaminated with these fragments can increase the risk of disease such as cancer.

Following the release of the Circular Economy package, the European Union (EU) has made plastic management its top priority, making its goal to increase the recycling of plastic packaging by 55% by 2030. But in order to really create change, people and companies around the world need to be mindful about the potential harm they are doing to the environment and take action.

Marchesini says, “It is essential that we look at our lifestyles and make what changes we can to minimise our impact on the environment. It can be the smallest of changes that have the biggest impacts, and they don't all have to cost an arm and a leg.”

For the hospitality and service industries H2O International and partner, Cosmetal recently launched a system called, NIAGARA - an efficient, economic, green alternative to plastic bottled water. The NIAGARA range offers a comprehensive series of counter top, undercounter, freestanding and fountain models that dispense large volumes of chilled still and sparkling water which can be used to fill glass jugs or bottles, making it a practical, quick, low cost and environmentally friendly alternative to serving plastic bottled water.

Whether 500ml or 5L bottles, if you drink or cook with bottled water at home because it's better tasting and thought to be cleaner than tap water you don't need to go through this continual expense and add to the plastic problem. By investing in a purification pitcher or installing a removable countertop filtration system that easily connects to your tap all you have to do is turn on your tap and fill a regular glass for a sip of great tasting filtered H2O. For homes and offices there are also luxury bottle-less water cooler options available to suit every space.

Humanity is only just starting to acknowledge and rectify the harm it has caused to the planet, and the movement away from plastic is a giant leap forward in a long journey toward undoing the plague-proportions of damage done over the last one hundred years.

For more information, refer to www.h2o.co.za 

To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/press-releases

Date published: 
Wednesday, 10 October, 2018
Countries: 
Issued by: 
H2O International SA

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