To build food security, reduce plastic use
BY JULIE KURTZ AND DREW SAMPLE
Our food system has a plastic problem. Macro- and micro-plastic pollution is contaminating aquatic and agricultural ecosystems—threatening food security. Plastics are entering food chains, threatening both animal and human health. Meanwhile, as diets increasingly include more packaged ultra-processed and fast foods, the food system itself is generating more and more plastic pollution. Takeout food and beverage containers have become a dominant source of aquatic global litter. Of the $75 billion in estimated annual environmental damage due to plastics, food and beverage companies are the largest culprit, responsible for 23% of the cost.
To curb these problems, policies that limit a particularly dangerous trend—the rise in single-use plastic production and distribution—and encourage more nutritious and ecological alternatives to throwaway items must be a central component of a healthy and resilient food system.