Sustainability and Circular Economy Lab
University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo


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We are surrounded by plastic (Romei RePlastics, 2021). This multifaceted material has now invaded every natural environment, going as far as being detected in the snow of glaciers as in the lava released by the eruption of volcanoes (Bergmann et al., 2017). The plastic we use every day is composed of long molecular chains derived from oil. These stable synthetic chains make it a non-biodegradable material; therefore, it is not susceptible to the action of microbial enzymes. For this reason, the degradation of these compounds occurs only by abiotic degradation, through processes such as photodegradation or hydrolysis. Although plastics are useful in many everyday applications, if dispersed, they are not an environmentally friendly material. It will take hundreds of years to degrade, and will do so anyway by decomposing, fragmenting into nanoparticles that will remain in ecosystems forever. In fact, plastic is like diamonds: "It lasts forever. All the plastic produced, somewhere on this planet, still exists". (Greco, 2020). 


Estimates tell us that the accumulation of plastics is so evident that it accounts for 80% of the recorded marine litter (Bergmann et al., 2015) and when it enters the oceans, plastics never degrade. There are now no biological compartments that do not suffer the impact of this alien presence. The dispersion of plastic in natural habitats is changing ecosystems, leaving traces - often invisible to the naked eye - in the form of microplastics and nanoplastics. The latter are also found in the human body, having definitively become part of the food chain (Ragusa et al., 2021). Research tells us that we are now ingesting 5 grams of plastic per week, the equivalent of a credit card (Wit & Bigaud, 2019). This is a pervasive environmental problem with consequences that we still know little about because the effects and interactions of these phenomena remain to be studied.


In 2016, according to World Bank figures, municipal solid waste generation reached 2 billion tonnes. These estimates are set to double by 2025, with half of the waste consisting of plastics and metals. This becomes even more dramatic when we discover that only 9% of plastics that have reached the end of their useful life are actually recycled. In fact, a 2017 study calculated the total amount of all plastics produced since the 1950s - the period of birth and development of the first plastic forms - to date, analysing their final destination (Geyer, Jambeck & Law, 2017). By now we know about the problem, thanks to continuous public awareness, yet we still find it difficult to part with it. We are so used to plastic that we don't even notice it anymore; it is the norm in our homes, even being present in the food we eat and the water we drink (Greco, 2020).

The European Union has sought to remedy this problem by intervening at a regulatory level with the Single Use Plastic (SUP) Directive. The European Union's EU Directive 2019/904 on single-use plastics came into force on 3 July 2019 with the aim of combating the creation of plastic waste. The legislation specifically bans from 2021 the use of certain single-use plastic products for which alternatives exist, including plates, cutlery and straws.


 Clearly making a commitment to proper separate collection if it is packaging (mixed/residual waste if it is non-packaging plastic) is the starting point but... can we take action to reduce or drastically eliminate plastic from our pantries?


Find out with us 10 good tips:













Download for more informations:


  Plastic on our plates


  SUP Directive


flat powerpoint logo 01  Educational and more



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