What are packaging companies doing to reduce plastic waste?
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Let’s talk packaging. From the estimated 599 million pounds of plastic packaging waste Amazon generated in 2020 to the 550 million shampoo bottles that Americans throw into landfills every year- packaging accounts for a lot of single-use plastic waste. Resources – crude oil, natural gas, water, and even wood- are used and discarded within a short period. This waste releases toxic contaminants into our water and soil.
So, what’s the solution to these packaging problems? One answer is alternatives like recyclable paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and styrofoam-like materials made from corn that degrade in water. Or aluminum and glass, which are reusable and recyclable. And, biodegradable or recyclable materials are always better than single-use waste.
It can feel confusing to understand the best solutions to help reduce single-use plastic packaging waste. Derek Ridge, a representative from the global packaging company, Morrisette, answered questions about sustainable packaging and how consumers can make a difference.
Does circular packaging exist?
Yes. Any paper-based material in today’s environment typically has a significant amount of pre-consumer recycled content. We have to be cognizant of certain finishing components such as inks, staples, etc that can make it un-recyclable.
Resin based materials, flexible packaging, bubble mailers, food packaging, all typically fall in to local drop off recycling. So your drop off bins outside your grocery stores etc.
PET material (milk jugs, bottles, etc.) can go into your curbside recycling bin by consumers.
Where do recycled materials come from in terms of packaging?
Raw material creation from bio-based (usually plant-based) resources, packing reused for other needs (i.e., storage of items), materials being brought back to product manufacturers through chemical and mechanical recycling process.
How has packaging changed over the last decade?
The ever-growing e-commerce sector has increased packaging demand for small businesses all the way to the Amazons of the world. Packaging solutions these days focus on carbon footprint, DIM weight reduction/shipping cost reduction, brand consistency, damage reduction, and efficiency.
How can consumers push for sustainable packaging?
Reuse packaging for personal needs, storage, moving supplies, content protection, etc.
[Support] Order from companies that utilize sustainable packaging, and be sure to recycle packaging properly.
Side note: Closed loop packaging systems are often found in pharmaceuticals, aerospace, automotive, etc. These industries utilize common reusable packaging instead of recyclable packaging. This type of system will utilize the same packaging when going from distributor to manufacturer and vise versa.