Packaging (waste), as a rule, is generated by businesses, but has to be processed by the end user
- Plastic is littering every corner of the globe
- Plastic is less likely to be successfully recycled
- 81.9% of paper was recycled in the UK in 2016
- Paper is biodegradable as it is plant based
- Biodegradable plastics will not degrade in the sea
- Making the switch to paper packaging will reduce plastic packaging pollution
Reducing packaging pollution
Your business can make a significant impact on reducing packaging pollution by using packaging that will not harm the environment. Responsible consumers will make the effort to recycle or dispose of the packaging in the correct place. Organisations can take steps to make this as easy as possible for them. However, it is well documented that packaging is polluting every corner of the globe.
The issue that is trending at the moment is plastic in the ocean. Plastic packaging litters everywhere, and this is not the fault of the business that generated it. Mostly, it results from anti-social behaviour, although some littering can be inadvertent.
However, in order to have the greatest and most immediate impact, we need to look at the sources of packaging waste, i.e. our businesses, to make changes that will have a positive impact that results in meaningful change.
UN Environment has an interesting article about this HERE.
Plastic packaging has a number of issues
- It will take 100’s of years to biodegrade (there are plastics that claim to biodegrade quickly, but it isn’t as straightforward as that. Click HERE to read an article about biodegradable plastics)
- Plastics are not easy to recycle as there are many variants of plastics (HDPE, PP, LDPE, PVC, etc)
- Plastic is oil based and therefore comes from a finite natural resource. Plastics from plant sources, it is argued, are theoretically using land that could be used for food production.
- China has stopped taking recycled plastics, and plastic waste is building up at storage sites around the world. Click HERE for more information.
Paper packaging has a number of benefits:
- It is easily recyclable. In 2016 81.9% of paper and cardboard was recycled in the UK.
- Paper is biodegradable.
- Paper comes from sustainable sources (managed forests)
Making an informed choice
It is important that we adopt packaging materials that will minimise the impact we have on our environment.
Some plastic products are marketed as being biodegradable or compostable but it is important to verify these claims.
It may be preferable to use a non-biodegradable plastic that can be recycled through household recycling facilities, rather than adopt a bio-degradable plastic item that cannot be recycled, and will only bio-degrade if it ends up in exactly the right place.
Note: Biodegradable plastics will not biodegrade in the sea, for example, because the temperature of the water is too low and there is a lack of UV light as the plastic sinks.
The eco-benefits of paper are much more clear cut
Corrugated cardboard boxes are an excellent eco-friendly form of packaging. They are typically manufactured from 60 – 100% recycledpaper, and are easily recycled.
Corrugated paper on a roll is an excellent product to use as an alternative to bubblewrap and can also be used a void-fill to fill empty spaces in a box.
Kraft paper on a roll is a traditional wrapping material and this is often used as a void-fill by scrunching it up and packing it around items in a box.
Jiffy padded bags are a paper based alternative to the bubble-lined mailing envelopes.
Corrugated pads are available in various types and sizes and are a good alternative to foam edge protection and polystyrene fittings.
Protega Global is innovating and developing paper based packaging products that are a viable and cost effective alternative to plastic packaging.
Below you can see the products that Protega Global are marketing, including gummed paper tape, Hexcel wrapping paper and Protega paper padding.
Many high profile retailers are urgently moving away from plastic packaging, and this is driving innovation in paper based packaging.