What are single use plastics?

Single use plastics… We’ve all heard the term flying around like a plastic bread bag on a windy day. But do we really know what single use plastics are?

We’ve heard the term used in many ways, and in a lot of different contexts, some right and many wrong. If someone asked you to give them a definition of a single use plastic, what would you say?

So, what exactly are single use plastics?

Whether you call them disposable plastics or single use plastics, these are the items or packaging that seem to be covering or containing everything we come into contact with today. 

Some examples please? Up until 12 months ago, the most common example of single use plastics were the shopping bags we used to be so fond of. Even though these have since been phased out, there are still the sneaky fruit and vege plastic bags that make their way into our shopping trolleys and our homes.

Other examples of single use plastics are disposable knives, forks and spoons that we use at barbecues and parties, the plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups, coffee cup lids, plastic straws or hot drink stirrers, soft drink or water bottles, food packaging or wrapping, lolly wrappers, even trusty old Glad Wrap or Cling Wrap… the list goes on and on! 

Most of these we use regularly; we use them once and then throw them away.

Where did single use plastics come from and why do we have them today?

It all started in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In these times, the problem of food waste had people up in arms. Enter single use plastics. They kept food and water fresher for longer, reducing the amount of food and liquid wasted.

There were other uses also. Single use plastics are very handy in stopping cross contamination of food items. Think of what would happen if your raw chicken was not wrapped in plastic and came in contact with your bread… it could end up being a nasty situation! These handy little pieces of plastic were intended to keep your food safe.

Plastics also started being used in the 1970s to 1980s to replace paper packaging or wrapping. There was a concern that too many trees were being cut down to produce the paper for paper bags, wrapping and packaging.

It was at this time your daily loaf of bread went from being wrapped in paper, to being popped in a plastic bread bag. The idea definitely caught on, to the point that a National Geographic report in 2018 showed that a shocking 40% of plastic packaging made was used once and then thrown away! And this may have been where the problems started. Thankfully now you have the option of popping a lovely fresh loaf of bread into a sustainably sourced reusable bread bag!

The solution to single use plastics today?

As a community, we are becoming more and more aware of the impact we are having on the environment through things we do, how we live, and most importantly the things we use in everyday life.

Subsequently, more alternative options are popping up in the market to help us reduce the impact of these types of products and reduce our negative environmental footprint.

Why not make some small changes today that can help reduce this destructive footprint? A very simple change to make today, is to swap your single use bread bag for a reusable bread bag! It’s a small step, but it can have a big impact if enough of us do it.

With this in mind, Aussie Bread Bags are committed to providing you options to help you reduce single use plastics and create a more sustainable world.



- https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/

- https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/