Plastic Pollution: How Food Manufacturing Can Help

Plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways is an ever-growing problem. After all, there is a giant island of discarded plastic that’s twice the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific Ocean. 

Over time, the sun, ocean waves, and marine life cause the plastic in our water to break down into microplastics. It’s not long before fish and other marine animals ingest the microplastics that infiltrated their habitat. 

This is nothing new. It’s been documented for several decades that commercial fish and shellfish contain traces of microplastics in their digestive tracts.

What is new?

88% of food proteins contain microplastics, including land-based proteins! This was found across sixteen different samples of protein.

Yup, that’s right. Microplastics are now revealing their presence in pork, beef, chicken, and even tofu.  

However, some food proteins have higher concentrations of microplastics than others. Stick with us as we cover food processing’s role in the matter, how food manufacturers are working to reduce it, and which jobs coincide with that mission. 

Microplastic Contamination Of Land-Based Proteins

One of the sources of microplastic contamination is food processing. Highly processed foods like fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and our beloved plant-based burgers show a significantly higher amount of microplastics than minimally processed foods. Examples of minimally processed foods include but are not limited to, raw chicken breast and Alaskan Pollock.

But that doesn’t mean food manufacturing is the only culprit, especially since there wasn’t a difference in the amount of microplastics found in fresh-caught proteins. That leaves the door open for other possible sources of contamination.

We’ll see a wealth of much-needed research over the years to come as scientists and researchers piece together the full picture of plastic’s impact on us and our food. In the meantime, many people, including food manufacturers, are pitching in to do their part in reducing plastic pollution.

How Food Manufacturing Can Help Reduce Plastic Pollution

Food manufacturing companies are finding and implementing solutions to reduce their plastic contribution. Here are a few of the strategies food manufacturers are using.

Identifying their amount of plastic waste.

One of the first steps for food manufacturers to combat plastic pollution is knowing how much plastic waste the facility generates. Conducting a plastic audit is the best way to determine the company’s plastic waste contribution.

The results from the plastic audit provide a clear view of the sources of unnecessary plastic usage. Food manufacturers can then make actionable decisions on how to reduce or eliminate the problem. A comprehensive plan can be developed to optimize production with minimal plastic.

Disposing of used plastics properly.

Investing in waste management is paramount to minimizing plastic pollution. There have been a multitude of technological advancements in plastic shredders, balers, and compactors that assist in the proper disposal of plastics.

Plastic waste management machines tremendously help the environment, promote recycling, and encourage the reuse of plastic materials.

Find alternatives to plastics whenever available.

Bioplastics have become a popular alternative to plastics for food manufacturers. These are plastics derived from organic materials like vegetable fats, agricultural by-products, wood chips, corn starch, hemp, etc.

Food manufacturers have also turned to plant-based packaging solutions to further their plastic reduction initiative. The goal is to continue finding the areas where traditional plastic is replaced with something more environmentally friendly.

Read into Canada’s mission to reduce plastic waste by 75% by the year 2030.

Jobs That Help With Plastic Reduction

As more companies take a plastic-conscious approach, they’ll need more talented professionals to help usher in a plastic-reduced future. Two positions that will play a significant role in this mission are waste management specialists and managers. Developing an efficient plastic waste management program is imperative to reducing plastic in food manufacturing.

Waste management professionals aren’t the only ones jumping in to help. Production managers will have to ensure every department throughout the organization is on board with the plastic reduction plan. They’ll also participate in plastic audits and be expected to optimize production lines for minimal plastic usage.

Food manufacturers will adapt these positions and possibly add new ones as we better understand how to negate the plastic crisis. It’s a great time to be in food manufacturing because we’re seeing the industry evolve with the needs of the planet. 

Don’t worry! You can take part in the mission too!

QTalent aims to connect you with some of Canada’s top food-processing employers. You get a fully customizable profile that empowers you to tell your story beyond the resume. 

Utilise your skills, experience, achievements, and certifications to showcase that you’re the one for the job. Tailor your search results to filter out the jobs that aren’t close to you to avoid long commutes and find the food manufacturing job that best fits you. 

You’re only a click away from getting started. Click here to create your new profile and find out which food manufacturers are hiring right now!

Brittany Brooks

Author

Brittany Brooks has worked in Human Resources as an HR specialist and manager for 10 years. After that time, she decided to use her powers for the good of the workplace. She uses her first-hand experiences in her writing to give employees and business owners an honest look into what’s happening at work.

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