This year we are rapidly shifting to plastic free packaging for all our greeting cards. Two of my main customers in Cornwall, the Eden Project, and the Tate St Ives, have plastic free shops. All the Light on the Sea cards are now supplied in biodegradable, compostable packaging made from corn starch, with envelopes made from recycled paper. The cellophane (oil based) sleeves which we used for greeting card packaging are being discontinued, and soon all our greeting cards will be in plastic free sleeves.
In 1950 the world produced only 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. By 2015, annual production had increased nearly 200-fold, reaching 381 million tonnes, roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. From 1950 to 2015 a total 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic had been produced, more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today. Clearly this is completely unsustainable and at last we are starting to wake up to the problem.
Packaging is the dominant sectoral use of plastics globally accounting for 42 percent (146 million tonnes) in 2016. This was followed by construction with 19 percent (65 million tonnes). Since packaging tends to have a much lower product lifetime than other products (such as construction or textiles), it is also dominant in terms of annual waste generation. It is responsible for almost half of global plastic waste. The production of so-called ‘bioplastics’ or biodegradable plastics is currently very low: estimated at around 4 million tonnes per year (which would be just over one percent of global plastics production).