Many businesses are looking to make the switch from plastic to paper packaging to pledge their commitment to the environment. Before giving up plastic for good, businesses will weigh up the pros and cons of each material to determine which will provide a more eco-friendly packaging solution.
To help you decide, we’ve compiled some of the advantages and disadvantages of plastic and paper packaging below.
Advantages of plastic packaging
The main advantage of plastic packaging is its price. Plastic can be produced quickly and cheaply, which is why it has become such a popular material for packaging across the globe. Other benefits of plastic packaging include its durable and lightweight qualities, making it ideal for transporting goods safely.
However, from April 2022, the UK Government is introducing a Plastic Tax on all packaging manufactured in, or imported into, the UK. This means that businesses using packaging that contains less that 30 per cent recycled material will have to pay a tax, so plastic packaging may no longer be the cheaper option.
Disadvantages of plastic packaging
Plastic packaging is becoming increasingly recognised for its damaging environmental qualities. Plastic can take thousands of years to biodegrade, so single-use plastic packaging is highly polluting. Even plastic packaging that claims to be recyclable often ends up in landfill – especially with recycling capabilities varying from council to council in the UK.
When plastic does degrade, small plastic molecules release toxins which can poison soil, rendering local land infertile. These molecules can also infiltrate waterways and damage delicate ecosystems.
The plastic production process is also damaging to the environment. Most plastic is produced as cheaply as possible in factories based in developing countries where there are limited laws on pollution. These factories release copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and many also discharge toxic waste and manufacturing by-products into local bodies of water.
Plastic packaging can be known for its lack of protection as well, air bags for instance are transmitting shock within the package as opposed to absorbing it. Along with being pushed down to the bottom of a package through transit and then bursting on impact, deeming it useless. A similar effect can be seen when using bubblewrap, the bubbles burst and then provide little to no protection for the product inside.
Advantages of paper packaging
Unlike its plastic counterpart, paper packaging does not damage the environment. Paper packaging can be 100 per cent recyclable and is easy to recycle for customers – packaging can simply be disposed of in home recycling bins, unlike many types of ‘recyclable’ plastic.
Paper packaging derives from natural sources so no harmful, carbon dioxide-emitting production processes are involved. Protega Global’s paper packaging products use paper from FSC-certified forests which are managed sustainably, ensuring that there is no detrimental impact to the environment with excessive deforestation.
Although paper packaging may be initially more expensive than plastic packaging, it can be more cost-effective for businesses in the long run. Protega Global’s paper packaging products, such as Paper Bubble Wrap, increase packing speeds by up to 50 per cent as well as reducing breakages by 50 per cent. You will also use 80 per cent less space when compared to plastic bubble wrap.
Paper packaging is also an excellent way to promote your brand ethos. With more and more consumers looking to spend their money ethically, positioning your brand as environmentally friendly can give sales a boost. Packaging products in paper communicates your sustainable values.
There are also alternatives to wood fibre packaging such as agri-waste paper. Made from crops such as sugar cane and wheat, which can further improve businesses carbon emissions.
Disadvantages of paper packaging
Some paper packaging – especially low-quality products – can be less durable than plastic packaging. To solve this problem, Protega Paper has a cutting-edge design with creases and crimps offering superior strength.
Paper packaging can cost more than plastic, however, with innovative packing machines, clever packing techniques and space-saving product design, paper packaging can save your business money with increased efficiency and reduced packaging materials.
The other disadvantages of paper that are widely misconstrued are water intensive production, strength of paper, deforestation, and weight during transport. We debunk these packaging problems in our one of our recent blogs here
Get in touch with Protega Global today to discuss switching to paper packaging.