Walking around the city or the countryside, you can see them everywhere: plastic bags, empty soda cans, candy bar wrappers, beer bottles, juice boxes. Latvia is drowning in packaging waste! And that is just the visible part of the problem. We are using up valuable, finite resources to produce packages that we only use for very short amount of time – and which are causing a lot of environmental damage, too.
In the Fall of 2014, “homo ecos:” launches the social campaign “Uzmanību! #Maisbergs!” (loosely translated as “Watch out! Big heap of plastic bags!”.
So how big is the problem really?
210,000 tonnes of garbage – that is how much packaging waste we produce in Latvia per year! Imagine a garbage heap the size of the brand-new Latvian National Library – times three! And even though experts say that more than 90% of household waste can easily be recycled, Latvia only recycles a meager 9% at the moment (source: European Environmental Agency).
So why don’t we recycle more?
According to a poll we carried out with the help of Draugiem.lv, 56% of Latvians between 18 and 75 are happy to recycle more, if only it were made a bit easier – for instance by having a recycling container closer by. Good news is that by 2015, every city and village in Latvia is required by law to offer proper recycling infrastructure.
However, not everybody knows how and what to recycle. During the campaign, Latvijas Zaļais Punkts will help us to educate consumers about proper waste separation.
Do we really need all this packaging?
Of course, packaging has its purpose. It keeps our food fresh and clean, helps with transport, it promotes the product and informs the buyer about the ingredients. But in many cases, there are alternatives that use less packaging, options that are more environmentally friendly, or ways to avoid packaging altogether. During the campaign, we’ll gather tips and tricks for reduction here.
A major source of pollution are single-use plastic bags, which are usually given away for free by supermarkets and shops. The European Commission is trying to get rid these plastic bags altogether by 2020. Many countries around the world have already implemented policies to reduce the amount of plastic bags. Learn more about global efforts to reduce the ‘Maisbergs‘ here.
So what is “homo ecos:” doing to fight packaging waste?
Like last year, we are doing a small social experiment. Twenty normal Latvian families and five local celebrities have volunteered to track all the packaging that flows through their household for 2 week. You can follow the experiment here.
Together with Ekodizaina Kompetences Centrs we will investigate the results. We will compare prices, producers, supermarkets and products, in order to find the most environmentally friendly packaging options.
How do I keep updated about the campaign?
You can follow the entire social campaign via our social media.