What's it all about?
Just about everything is packaged in plastic today: cheese, cereals, fruit, vegetables, drinks, cosmetics, electronics, etc. It is therefore not surprising that packaging accounts for 40% of all plastic consumption (Center for International Environmental Law 2019). In the production of this packaging, chemicals called additives are used. These give the plastic desired properties such as colour, elasticity and stability.
What is the problem?
Plastic packaging is not only a problem when it enters the environment, where it is mistaken for food by animals and decomposes into microplastics (Bergmann 2015). Plastic packaging can also become problematic for human health simply through its direct contact with our food. Particularly foods rich in fat or acid, such as cheese, absorb chemicals, the so called additives, from their packaging (GESAMP 2015). These additives, such as plasticisers, can be hormone disruptive or are even suspected of causing cancer (Center for International Environmental Law 2019).
What can I do?
Avoid plastic packaging. Many supermarkets accept self- brought boxes at their fresh food counters. Glass and stainless steel containers are suitable for storage, they do not contain harmful additives. Beeswax wraps are also a sustainable way to keep food fresh. However, sometimes it is difficult to completely avoid plastic packaging. It is therefore advisable to repackage particularly fatty or acidic foods, which absorb the chemical additives from the packaging to a particularly large extent, in suitable containers at home.