Pro.mo, a group of single-use plastic tableware manufacturers, was established in 2007 within Unionplast, the association that brings together Italy’s plastic processing and manufacturing companies, which, in its turn, is a member of the Rubber and Plastic Federation of Confindustria.
A Pro.mo aderiscono i principali produttori italiani di piatti, bicchieri, posate e accessori per la tavola realizzati con diversi materiali plastici idonei al contatto con alimenti e destinati a un utilizzo singolo in situazioni sia di natura domestica e privata, sia collettiva e pubblica.
Pro.mo’s primary goals are to protect the image of the sector and the in-depth study and popularisation of the economic, social and environmental issues associated with this product category. The group actively promotes and supports scientific studiesstudies on single-use plastic tableware, the way it is used and what to do with it at end of life, according to the simple principle “do not waste, do not litter”.
Besides a commitment to combat littering, the association undertakes and supports awareness raising activities. Pro.mo member companies are also committed to continually improve their production and quality control standards, to meet the new challenges of ecodesign and provide for quality recycling.
Pro.mo represents more than 70% of the Italian production of plastic tableware (Italy is one of the most important manufacturers at international level, exporting about one third of its production and thereby contributing to a positive balance of trade. Single-use plastic tableware and rigid food packaging manufacturing (two sectors that are close, and to some extent, overlapping) has generated a wealth of ancillary industries: makers of machinery, moulds and plastic processing accessories, suppliers of raw materials and special semi-finished products, recycling equipment…; these industries are regarded as an Italian excellence, making the “Plastic-rubber-machines-moulds” system into a sector that contributes more than 5 billion Euros to a positive trade balance.
There is no such a thing as good tableware and bad tableware.
The notion that single-use plastic tableware has a bigger impact on the environment than compostable tableware is a well-established cliché not supported by specific and exhaustive studies. On the contrary, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) carried out according to standards ISO 14044 and 14040, and subjected to critical review by SGS Italia spa, has yielded surprising results: on average, the impact of single-use tableware made of polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) along its entire lifecycle is less than the impact of compostable tableware made from polylactic acid (PLA) and cellulose pulp. This means that at the moment there is no scientific basis - arising from an analysis of the overall environmental impact – that justifies blaming, or even banning, these products. In actual fact, plastic tableware should be viewed as a sustainable option, similar to, and in many cases better than, other solutions.
Littering is mostly due to poor education.
Like everybody else, here at Pro.mo we do not want to see plastic waste end up in the rivers, the roads, the seas. However, it should be noted that this material does not get there by itself, it is dumped in the environment because of bad behaviour on the part of the users and because of poor management. We believe that each and every plastic cup dumped into a field or thrown into the sea is a bad mistake and bad publicity. Like all those who work in the field of plastic, we support the actions necessary to improve people’s awareness and behaviour. Furthermore, we wish to point out that plastic pollution in the sea is to a large extent caused by countries outside Europe and hence a viable solution should have a global dimension.
Plastic recycling: a key driver of circular economy.
The measures adopted by the European Parliament to promote circular economy set a plastic packaging recycling target of 55% by 2025 In this connection, Italy is a virtuous country, with a 43% share of plastic packaging materials being recycled and an economy circularity rate (percentage ratio between secondary raw materials and total domestic consumption) of 18.7% vs. a European average of 11.4%. Pro.mo believes that recycling and a circular economy are the best strategy to protect the environment and is ready to collaborate to improve plastic tableware collection systems.
In some situations, single-use plastic tableware is irreplaceable.
Environmental sustainability is a top priority, but it should be looked at in a broader context of global sustainability. The choice between traditional reusable tableware, single-use compostable tableware and disposable plastic tableware, at least in the fields of collective food service and eating out, depends on may variables: accessibility of washing facilities, functionality, safety, hygiene and, last but not least, costs – all these factors often tip the scale in favour of single-use plastic tableware. In many situations, in fact, plastic tableware is second to none: events, collective food service, catering, in an emergency, in street food.