Plastic – Coop reduces the plastic packaging of organic vegetables

World population has increased steadily from year to year and will continually do so in the future. Statistics have shown that it won’t grow as rapidy as it has in the years past, but still continuously grow. (Roser, 2018) Due to such a large portion of the population and the environment changing drastically, there is much more need of food productions than there were years ago. More land is necessary for the agriculture causing habitats to be destroyed. Human needs more resources than what mother nature is able to replenish, causing a lack of efficient founds for each ones needs. (Blanc, 2017)

Habitats are being destroyed at a rapidly pace and now causing and playing a large role in the eco system. We can now see how densely the ocean’s are afloat with plastic causing the marine life harm. The confusion these animals have on a daily basis of no knowing whether the objects in the water may be good or garbage. A downside from this all also leads to the saying “you are what you eat”. The is harmful to the humans as well if eating fish since the plastic is digested into the fish making the humans then so also digesting what ever the fish may have consumed. (McCauley, 2016) Other animals also suffering from the plastic waste. Furthermore plastic is not hundert percent recyclable. Incineration of plastic waste produces a harmful toxic, that becomes dangerous when released into the environment. (ScienceDirect, 2016)

Click to watch the video about “the plastic pollution, our oceans, our future…“

The illustration below indicates that almost 80% of the plastic production goes to landfills or natural environment. Just 12% is incinerated and only 9% recycled. (Sanapackaging, 2017-2018)

Source: (Sanapackaging, 2017).

A big part of food production has to be packed. Each manufacturer, seller or importer want to keep the costs low and try to be leader in the market. Concerning the economic perspective plastic is a practical packaging material. Plastic is light, cheap, allows a protect of the product good and is easy to recycle in comparison with other packaging materials. (Leena, 2015) (Sullivan, 2017)

Products have to stay fresh, especially when they are transfered from country to country. This gives them the possibility to survive the overships or flights over a long distance of time. The organic vegetable have to pass many stations until it reaches its destination. Organic is packaged and redistributed in boxes. It is then taken out of the boxes and then ready to be stocked onto the shelves. (Leena, 2015)

The food store Coop in Switzerland does not package any organic vegetable into plastic anymore. Coop will launche this for all the chosen vegetables. Instead of using plastic they use a sticker or elastic bands with a label around them that distinguish the specific items This is necessary that the customers can be sure that the food is organic and qualifies for the food standards. (Coop, 2018)

These pictures below demonstrate the process:

Source: (Coop, 2018).

Labeling requirements

Coop – and all other swiss sellers – have to consider the labeling requirements of organic vegetables. A few legal regulations in Switzerland are: correct description, country of origin, durability, name the producer and indication of quantity. All this is necessary that the customers are informed correctly about the product. (Bio-suisse, 2017)  Click for more and specific regulations.

Benefits in reducing plastic packaging

Reducing plastic packaging reduces waste and environmental impacts while saving money. The benefits are that less purchasing in packaging materials is necessary and along with this that it avoids disposal of packaging materials. This is not only good to save money but it has also many environmental benefits. It produces less transportation energy and emissions from packaging production and waste transport. (Achieve, w.y.)

What can we do?

Firstly, we should be aware how much plastic we use. One of the best solution is to reuse plastic. We also have to rethink if we really need plastic packaging over the environmetal friendlier alternatives. By doing so we need to support the labels as the organic vegetables of coop even when their more expensive than other packaged food. Take abag with you, which you can use more than once, and then dispose the plastic correctly. Or simply opt out for a reusable bag for your daily needs.

Most products are already packaged. The corporations should give the customers the option to choose how they will have packed their product. Furthermore they should rethink if they could also create a concept like Coop did.

Taking action to make our environment more economically friendly allows us toconnected together on the earth. We are the chance and we are the ones responsible for the protection of our environment.


Achieve, w.y., Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging: A Guide for Food Services and Restaurants. Page 16. Online:

Bio-suisse, 2017. Kennzeichnung biologischer Lebensmittel. Online:

Blanc, 2017. Environmental sustainability. Online:

Coop, 2018. Nachhaltigkeit. Online:

Leena, 2015. Nachhaltig-sein. Der Plastikwahn im Bio-Regal. Online:

Roser, 2018. Our world in Data. Population grow. Online:

Sanapackaging, 2017. Why packaging. Online:

ScienceDirect, 2016. Toxic Pollutants from Plastic Waste- A Review. Online:

Sullivan, 2017. Bizfluent. Different types of packaging materials. Online:


Coop, 2018. Nachhaltigkeit. Online:

Sanapackaging, 2017. Why packaging. Online:


McCauley,2016. Plastic pollution, our oceans, our future. Online:


Why waste management has to become a common thing all over the world

Unmanaged and improperly managed waste from decades of economic growth requires urgent action at all levels of society(Jorruang, 2018)”.

In 2016 the world’s cities generated 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste. This is on average a footprint of 0.74 kilograms per person per day. Until 2050 the waste generation is expected to increase by 70% up to 3.4 billion tonnes (The World Bank, 2018).

Waste management has a strong impact on a range of other global challenges and is therefore viewed as an entry point to address a range of sustainable development issues (Wilson, et al., 2018).

The developing countries are more severely impacted by unsustainably managed waste. 90% of the waste is disposed in unregulated dumps or openly burned which leads to serious health, safety, and environmental issues. The waste produces methane which contributes to global climate change, promotes urban violence and breeds the ground for disease vectors (The World Bank, 2018). In addition to that, it has aswell an impact on poverty, resource security and the sustainable production and consumption of goods (Wilson, et al., 2018).

It is a big challenge for many developing countries and cities to manage their waste but it is essential for building sustainable and livable cities. The problem is, that effective waste management causes a lot of costs, often comprising 20%– 50% of municipal budgets (The World Bank, 2018).

Annual municipal solid waste generated per capita (kilograms/capita/day)Figure 1: Annual municipal solid waste

Did you know that municipal solid waste per capita increases with income level (Wilson, et al., 2018)?

The Swiss are called the “Champions in waste management”. But although their great recycling quote, the among of produced rubbish in Switzerland is the highest in Europe. The waste produced, is on average 714 kilograms, per person each year. Switzerland is even higher in waste production than Germany which produces “only” 638 kilograms per capita (Tognina, 2018).

To provide a clean waste management all over the world, it is important to ensure access for everyone to basic waste services, that means to stop uncontrolled dumping and burning. Hazardous substances in wastes should be getting under control and the problem has to be tackled at the source, means to set the focus on waste prevention. Last, it is important to close a clean material cycle (Wilson, et al., 2018). In addition, my opinion is that it is important that the people, especially in the poor areas get better information on what happens when they are dumping and burning waste. It is assumed that those people are used to burn the waste because everyone does, so and they are just used to it, instead of rethinking the actual process.

And how can we do it?
We should take responsibility and build partnerships, means working together on clear strategic goals. Being proactive in policies and sound institutions. We should support those who can not afford to pay, because money matters. We should make sure that the availability and reliability of waste and resource management data should be generated for everyone (Wilson, et al., 2018).

Means if we are great recycler we should not think that recycling makes our consumption of waste “acceptable”. To help the world to be a healthier and more sustainable planet, we should not only concentrate to recycle rather reduce the waste we produce every day. Furthermore, we should try to help those countries who can not afford to have a sustainable waste management.

If we would have a clear waste management all over the world, we could stop the contamination of the oceans, the problems with drains and floodings. We would not transmit diseases via breeding of vectors, increase respiratory problems through airborne particles from burning waste and harming animals that consume waste unknowingly (Jorruang, 2018).


Jorruang, T. (2018). The World Bank. Available at: waste/challenges_to_the_solid_waste_sector.html accessed 14.09.2018

The World Bank. (20. 09 2018). The World Bank. Available at: accessed 14.09.2018

Tognina, A. (15. 01 2018). Swissinfo. Available at: Swisssinfo: accessed 14.09.2018

Wilson, D., Rodic, L., Modak, P., Soos, R., Carpintero, A., Velis, C., . . . Simonett, O. (05. 10 2018). ISWA. Available at: accessed 14.09.2018


Figure 1:

A world (and ocean) of plastic

Today, most of us could not imagine a life without plastic, unfortunately.
It’s the matter bottles, packaging, children’s toys and our electronics (most importantly our smartphones) are made out of.

Plastic Problems

Unlike natural materials, plastic does not biodegrade. Which means that plastic stays in the environment for ever if not recycled by us.
There is also a process called photodegradation which has more of an effect on plastic. When it’s exposed to UV rays the molecules of plastic start to fall apart which can turn one plastic bag in many small plastic particles also refered to as microplastic. This is not a good message however, because these microplastic particles release poisonous chemicals like bisphenol A, also known as BPA.

No problem as long as plastic is not exposed to sunlight right? Think of the following questions for one second. Where do we usually live? What covers 70% of the earth’s surface? Where does our plastic waste end up? To answer the first two questions: We’re land-based mammals who throw our plastic waste into the habitat in which we don’t live. This is where plastic is exposed to a lot of sunlight. But what about the third question? Where does it all end up?

The seven seas of plastic

A study from Cózar et al. (2014) estimates that there are up to 35’000 tons of plastic in the open ocean of which the majority is concentrated in so called garbage patches which form because of ocean currents. There are five of these patches, one in the indian ocean, two in the atlantic ocean and two in the pacific ocean. Another study perfromed by Eriksen et al. (2013) in which they collected 48 samples throughout the south pacific garbage patch shows similar results as the map from the study from Cózar et al. (2014).

The first picture shows the picture of Cózar et al. (2014) and the second one is from Eriksen et al. (2013). Both pictures show how the south pacific garbage patch is built with the ocean currents that form gyres, resulting in concentrating most of the plastic in the middle.

Referring back to the problematic photodegradation; it is commonly known that the deeper something is in the ocean the less light reaches it as it’s reflected more and more by the water. After 1000 meters no sunlight can penetrate the water anymore.


Most of the plastic does not go down that deep.

According to a study of  Reisser et al. (2015) most of the plastic is found between the surface and 0.5 m depth. Both in terms of pieces and mass per cubic meter they found more than in the other 4.5 m analyzed. Even at 5 m depth plastic is  exposed to lots of sunlight which ultimately causes it to decay into the abovementioned toxic substance BPA.

Plastic food

And then? Marine animals such as fish, wales and sea birds eat these microplastics and eventually die as they aren’t able to digest the plastic. But hey, this does not cause us any harm right? Wrong.

According to an article from Miranda & Carvalho-Souza (2015) marine animals often mistake plastic particles for plankton and other “food”. Like this the plastic moves up the food chain until it gets into our stomachs.

That’s really not a nice imagination, to eat plastic we wasted in our oceans. Karma at its best!

THE Solution

Luckily there is hope.  One of the co-authors of Reisser et al. (2015), namely Boyan Slat, came up with an increadible idea in 2013. He wanted to start a project to free the oceans from plastic after he went scuba diving and saw more plastic than fish. The project “The Ocean Cleanup” was born. It raised $2’200’000 dollars through crowdfunding in 2014. Slat and his partners performed several studies and experiments in the following years to test his idea in reality.

How does it work?

This year on the 8th of September “System 001” was launched from the San Francisco Bay to target the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Two years from now in 2020, after having learned a lesson or two from system 001, The Ocean Cleanup team plans to launch “System 002” before scaling up to full potential with 60 fleets. They expect to get rid of 50% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in only five years. After then installing these fleets in all five garbage patches they want to reach the goal of removing 90% of the plastic waste until 2040.

Below you can see two pictures, the first depicting how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch would look like in 2030 without Ocean Cleanup and the second how it’s projected to be in 2030 thanks to Ocean Cleanup.

Personally I really hope that this project will be a worldwide success because I love fish and seafood, but the imagination that I might eat toxic plastic particles with it feels very creepy.

Scientific papers:

Cózar, A. et al., 2014. Plastic debris in the open ocean. PNAS. 111(28), 10239-10244. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

Reisser, J. et al., 2015. The vertical distribution of buoyant plastics at sea: an observational study in the North Atlantic Gyre. Biogeosciences. 12, 1249-1256. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

Eriksen, M. et al., 2013. Plastic pollution in the South Pacific subtropical gyre. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 68, 71-76. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

Miranda, D. de A. & Carvalho-Souza G. F., 2015. Are we eating plastic-ingesting fish?. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Number of the volume/edition unknown, 1-6. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

Further sources:

William, H. 2010. How long does it take for plastics to biodegrade? Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

The Ocean Cleanup, 2018. Milestones. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)

The Ocean Cleanup, 2018. Technology. How it works. Online: (Accessed: 18. November 2018)