Work in progress since 2023
As of January 2020, the Austrian government banned the use of plastic bags and passed a law on the use of new, bioplastic ones. The law was necessary in order to reduce enormous consumption of thin plastic bags, especially in the grocery shopping. These bags are usually used only once before they end up in the waste. Thinner than 50 µm, they are one of the 10 most littered items in the EU and need up to 400 years to completely decompose in the natural environment. Before that happens, they ended up in the rivers and oceans where they are consumed by animals or break down into micro-plastics. In any case they become part of the human and animal food chain.
The new bioplastic technologies have helped to reduce the dissolution time of the thin plastic bags used in grocery shopping from a couple of centuries to a couple of months. However, this bioplastic is not made to be thrown into the bio-waste, but into the residual one because bioplastic is not 100% made of organic materials, so it cannot contribute to organic compost. More precisely, this material needs a constant temperature between 50-70 C in order to disintegrate up to 90% within 6 months. In other words, it is still just waste.
Mio Bio is a photographic project that uses a documentary and staged approach to investigate the use of plastic packaging and bioplastic bags in grocery shopping.
I was visiting the green market and supermarkets in my neighbourhood in Vienna and was observing the habits of people who buy healthy food, lots of fruits and vegetables, and at the same time use a lot of bioplastic bags to carry them home. Another observation which cannot be bypassed is that almost all organic products in supermarkets are for some reason wrapped in packaging made of standard plastics. The project moves from the public to the private space of my own where I was observing my own habits when it comes to buying groceries and producing waste. This observation raises the question: Has the term „bio“ managed to create a myth in the minds of us consumers about a healthy life and responsible behaviour that will save the planet and lead us to a better future?