How To Reduce Plastic In Your Packaging
Single-use plastics have become one of, if not the most talked about topics in packaging at the moment, as it continues to make its way into the oceans and people become increasingly aware. Every year approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean, but by making some simple changes to the packaging you use, you can reduce plastic packaging waste and contribute to cutting that figure down.
Much of the standard packing tape that is used is either made from polypropylene or vinyl which are both types of plastic. Luckily Kraft paper tape and gummed paper tape can easily fill their spot and enable cardboard that it is attached to, to be recycled without the need for it to be separated during the recycling process, unlike plastic tapes. As well as being recyclable, gummed paper tape is biodegradable as it is made from paper and a starch-based, water-activated glue. Not only is it better for the environment but it also looks great on boxes and the wet adhesive soaks into the cardboard creating an exceptionally strong seal which is difficult to tamper with and won’t come undone.
Loose–Fill and Protective Materials
This is one area of packaging that can create a lot of excess waste, making it an important area of packaging in which to consider making changes to more environmentally friendly alternatives in order to reduce plastic waste. Instead of using polystyrene chips, bubble wrap, foam or other non-biodegradable protective packaging, try opting for alternatives that are made from paper that can easily be recycled, made from recycled material and will biodegrade rapidly if exposed to the elements. Corrugated paper is an excellent material for interleaving between different products and protecting the surface of objects due to the fluting, giving it cushioning properties. Kraft paper, when used with paper void fill machines is an excellent choice for busy packing rooms to fill empty space in parcels and provide cushioning for products against impacts. Our Eco-Friendly Loose-Fill is a great option when looking to become more environmentally friendly. These paper packing pellets are individual pieces of twisted paper that have been cut into pieces approximately 100mm in length and act in a similar way to polystyrene packing peanuts. They are 100% recyclable, degradable and can also be reused!
Many padded mailing bags are made of Kraft paper with a bubble liner (to give them cushioning against minor impacts and drops) which can often be non-biodegradable. Luckily though there are alternatives that aren’t made with plastic, and instead of containing a bubble lining are made by sandwiching shredded paper fibres between an inner and outer layer of paper. As they’re made completely from paper, they’re easy to recycle and completely biodegradable.
Most mailing bags that are used today are made from polythene as it is tough and waterproof. However, developments are being made where materials made from vegetable starches are being used in the place of plastics which still offer waterproof properties, and as they are made from vegetable starch will completely break down into natural products over time. Alternatively, if your parcels don’t need to be waterproof and aren’t going to be left outside in any rain you can opt for paper mailing bags which are recyclable and will easily biodegrade in landfills, or if exposed to the elements and will, therefore, reduce plastic packaging waste.
Plastic carrier bags are one of the most commonly found items of plastic waste in the ocean and landfills and break down into smaller and smaller fragments. By using paper bags that are can easily be recycled through your weekly curbside collection and will break down if disposed of, you can help to reduce plastic packaging making its way into landfills and the ocean. After all, a lot of the time carrier bags transport their contents from the store to a car and then from the car to a house and there are plenty of paper carrier bags out there that are more than able to do that.
Sometimes using plastic is a necessity and can’t always be avoided, after all, it is tough, cheap and waterproof. You can, however, reduce the effect that it can have on the environment by being aware of the material type that is being used so that you can educate your customers on how it can be recycled to ensure that it gets a new lease of life. See below for the main types of plastics used, what they are used for and how you can recycle them.
Even as a small business you can make a difference, by making simple changes to alternative products, making it easy to recycle or cutting back on your plastic packaging as a whole, you can reduce the amount of plastic packaging that is put out there. Not only is it good for the environment but you may stand to draw in customers that are more environmentally conscious from competitors that view it as more hassle.