A Teenager May Have a Solution to Mitigate Microplastics – Here’s Why That Matters To FMCG

What are microplastics?

Small pieces of plastic that are 5 millimeters or less in size are called “microplastics.” They end up in our water systems and in our consumable seafood sources via improper or inconsiderate waste disposal. These particles of plastic can come from plastic items as well as packaging. Another source of these microplastics are the little bits used in exfoliating body scrubs and face washes as well as in some toothpastes. They can be consumed by humans via food and water but also via inhalation because microplastics can be in the air as well. The reason they infiltrate human consumption is because of their size. They are so tiny that they’re able to move easily through water filtration systems. This is how they end up being harmful to marine life and damaging oceans and great lakes. 

What did Fionn Ferreira do?

According to Alisha Ebrahimji for CNN, “in the presence of water, ferrofluids — nontoxic magnetic liquids made up of oil and magnetite, an iron- based rock mineral — attract the microplastics because both have similar properties. For his project, Fionn Ferreira added oil and magnetite to water and mixed in a solution emulating plastic waste in the ocean. When the microplastics latched on to the ferrofluids, Ferreira dipped a magnet into the solution three times to remove both substances, leaving clear water.”

How does it matter to FMCG?

This is important because of packaging and food quality.

Microplastics in the air we breathe as well as in the food and water we consume can be, in some , attributed to the packaging of products. The majority of goods in the fast moving consumer goods space is packaged in a plastic or synthetic material of some sort.

We have seen alternative packaging trend recently. This will act to reduce some of the microplastics being poured into our environment everyday. The reluctance to change is in the bottom line. Manufacturers of goods are attempting to use biodegradable plastics, plastic alternatives made from plants and less packaging overall in order to combat this problem, but it is difficult because research, innovation, supply chain changes, and eco-focused initiatives all cost money. Many companies would choose to reduce the environmental harm they contribute to the environment, but the monetary repercussions can be a deterrent. We predict that eventually and steadily, in much of the packaging you see, an attempt to decrease the impact it has on the environment will be evident. 

Yes, packaging’s composition will have to be reconsidered, but it’s not the only element that will have to be reconsidered. The other element of packaging that will have to be reassessed is in branding. On top of that, the content of the item being packaged may have to change. Many of personal care products containing the plastic bits will then have to change their formulas.The microplastics associated with the glitter and microbeads found in exfoliants and toothpaste are also in jeopardy due to their environmental impact. As the industry moved forward, the necessity of these items will likely be examined. 

We want to know how you think microplastics will be factored into the production and packing of products in the future. Send us a message or comment here and let us know how your industry will be affected!

Source: This Irish teenager may have a solution for a plastic-free ocean

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