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(CNN) - Alternatives to plastic that are compostable could worsen marine pollution and have other serious environmental impacts, warned a report from a commission of parliamentarians in the United Kingdom.
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The world has a plastic problem: millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, polluting our seas, dirtying our beaches and endangering wildlife.
In an attempt to curb the devastation caused by the oceans and the environment, many companies and consumers are turning to alternatives to plastic, such as biodegradable or compostable packaging.
But instead of alleviating the problem of pollution, replacing plastic with other materials can still have a disastrous environmental impact, warned a report published by the Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
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In fact, such alternatives could even increase pollution by making people complacent about its use and disposal, the report published Thursday said. He cited the Green Alliance environmental group, which had expressed concern over the evidence that "people are more likely to discard material described as 'biodegradable' in the environment, something that would worsen pollution on land and in the sea."
The report found that consumers were confused about how to dispose of compostable containers, which could cause recycling pollution, as well as garbage.
The commission said the materials were being used as substitutes for plastic "without due consideration of the broader environmental consequences, such as higher carbon emissions."
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In the evidence included in the report, Juliet Phillips, an oceanic activist at the Environmental Research Agency stated that "if a biodegradable cup reaches the sea, it could be as big a problem for marine life as a conventional plastic cup."
The commission recommended that the UK government conduct a review of reusable and rechargeable packaging systems, and said the UK government was not putting enough emphasis on reducing plastic food and beverage containers in the first place.
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“We all know that the plastic pollution of our rivers and seas is a big problem. However, replacing plastic with other materials is not always the best solution, because all materials have an environmental impact, ”said Commission President Neil Parish.
“My commission is also concerned that compostable plastics have been introduced without adequate infrastructure or consumer understanding on how to get rid of them. Fundamentally, substitution is not the answer, and we must look for ways to reduce single-use packaging, ”he added.
"All food and beverage containers, whether plastic or other material, have an environmental impact," said the commission.
PlasticPlastic in the oceansRecycling