Wastes usually render our environment unwelcoming and the most horrible of them all are those wastes that are non-biodegradable and as such, wastes of these forms inflict a severe threat to our surroundings. One of these groups of non-biodegradable wastes is sachet packets.
Sachet wrapping of small quantities of products such as skin cream, shampoo and toothpaste permits the underprivileged people to meet the expense of these products instead of the more lavishly priced, typically one-litre, packed bottles and containers in western nations.
Sachet packaging, generally prepared of a fine film of plastic and aluminum in a sandwich laminate form, has captivated various underprivileged market sectors and has permitted giants such as Unilever and Nestle to attain market share and profit. Moreover, it has allowed the underprivileged to take delight in using quality products such as shampoos, toothpastes, lotions, condiments, even ready-to-eat food and drinking water from these universal giants, products which were formerly not feasible with normal bottle and container packaging. Sadly, sachets nowadays have come in real handy for most people. For instance, the Philippines with more than 105 million individuals ingest about 59.7 billion sachets annually, as stated by an advocacy group called ‘Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)’. That is sufficient to cover all of metropolitan Manila (Bengali, 2019).
There is certainly no question that these tiny pouches have brought improved and valuable products to our societies. However, the issue is that they have become an environmental catastrophe.
The Impact Sachet Packets have on the Environment
The sachet pouch is one of the tiniest bits of plastic which effortlessly gets discarded in the open environment and is hurriedly blended with soil which then glides down the pipes to rivers and oceans. Due to its small size, the sachet packets are one of the most unpleasant cloggers of the marine coastline. The most noticeable and disconcerting effects of marine plastics are the digestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of aquatic species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic debris for prey, and most perish of extreme hunger as their tummies are packed with plastic waste matter. Numerous associations have also projected that 100 million marine creatures die each year due to dumped plastic (Bryce & Hart, 2020).
And since there is no economic motivation to gather used sachets that have been wrongly dumped, no one takes the trouble to pick these up. When dispersed indiscriminately, these sachets block pipes and contribute to flooding. They are also unattractively, spoiling the cities and the countryside with the brand names of the giant companies.
These tiny plastic bags also weaken the “reduce, reuse and recycle” system. Many individuals will pick up big soft drink or shampoo PET (also known to be a form of polyester) bottles and separate these for reusing. However, spent sachets, covered with used products such as skin cream, will not be physically separated by consumers even if they are made up of plastic and metal film. As an alternative, they end up as litter – frequently in landfills where they do not actually biodegrade.
As perceived, waste sustainability is fast becoming a problem, inflicting serious threats to overrun landfills and form new ones from what are otherwise attractive sceneries and endangering the water supply by pollution.
Furthermore, sachets also contribute to global warming. As most of us are already aware, plastic is a petroleum product. And if plastic waste is burnt, it lets out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions, which eventually lead to increased heat, droughts, ocean-warming and rising sea levels.
How can this problem be solved?
This environmental nightmare can be controlled and prevented through several ways:
•Lessen the dependence on sachets bags and single-use plastic wrapping — by investing in alternative delivery arrangements — like using biodegradable resources, or home refill facilities.
•Initiate non-plastic based packing, perhaps paper, glass, or metal-based anywhere applicable.
•Lessen virgin plastic (new plastic made from oil) packing and as a substitute use recycled resources.
•In a world where only a small percentage of the plastic packaging makes its way to recycling plants, it becomes relevant for corporations to reassure consumers to return the plastic after use — so as to organize successful waste removal.
By Nathasha Hindurangala
Bryce, E., & Hart, M. (2020). How does plastic pollution affect the ocean?. Retrieved 5 October 2020, from https://chinadialogueocean.net/14200-how-does-plastic-pollution-affect-the-ocean/
Bengali, S. (2019). The tiny plastic packages that are fueling Asia's waste crisis. Retrieved 7 October 2020, from https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-10/the-tiny-plastic-packages-that-are-fueling-asias-waste-crisis