Long ago I bought myself some lentils from a major retailer of whole foods. They came in a clear, crinkly, sharp kind of plastic bag with colorful, crisp images. The bag had no plastic code so I set about researching the packaging. I phoned and asked the producer/ retailer but they couldn’t help me. So I had the packaging analyzed. I can now tell them that it was in fact a film consisting of a series of bonded layers including a 70 micron thick polypropylene and ethylene layer, laminated and printed. Or to put it more simply several layers of plastic each with different properties stuck together.
This method of making plastic films leads to a very versatile product that looks good and has a wide range of uses.
On the down side these films are almost impossible to recycle. Because they consist of different plastics bonded together it is difficult to know what they are and how to treat them and separating the films is tricky and so very expensive. And even if they could be, rates plastic recycling for easily recycled plastic is low. Because it is not really cost effective. Films therefore don’t get recycled but burnt or landfilled.
Just to remind you
Another barrier to [plastic] recycling is the widespread use of dyes, fillers, and other additives in plastics. The polymer is generally too viscous to economically remove fillers, and would be damaged by many of the processes that could cheaply remove the added dyes. Additives are less widely used in beverage containers and plastic bags, allowing them to be recycled more often. . Yet another barrier to removing large quantities of plastic from the waste stream and landfills is the fact that many common but small plastic items lack the universal triangle recycling symbol and accompanying number.
From Wikipedia on plastic recycling
So cut the fancy graphics and shiny films and the unidentified packaging and go for the simple, easily recognizable polythenes – but it’s still not easy. This packaging is being used more and more and it is very hard to get hold of things like beans and pulses – even from wholefood shops, in anything else. Also you wont be able to get many polythene wrapped products at your supermarket certainly not in the variety you might want – unless things have changed dramatically since I have been there. However the great internet store Goodness can supply you with a whole load of beans and other dried stuff wrapped in the not so bad plastic.
Please note, many of the companies featured on their website DO sell stuff in the kind of plastic packaging I am objecting to BUT the 3kg bulk buy bags in the Goodness range, their own range, always come in polythene bags. At least that has been my experience but you should double check..
Please note – their onward packaging is all recyclable or biodegradable.
Goodness Range ( that I have bought – there are lots more )
Other Places You Can Bulk Buy In Polythene
Obviously this is not an ideal solution and certainly not a plastic free one, it is the best I can come up with. The best solution would be to be able to buy loose then you could use your own bags and create no waste at all. There are very few shops around that do sell loose but you can find them here.
Find more plastic free stuff with the A-Z plastic free index