What Is Biodegradable, Recyclable, Compostable And Reusable Packaging. A Guide To Eco-Friendly Packaging

For a long time, retail has struggled with packaging waste. Mountains of moulded foam and the wrapped leftovers of plastic shrink and bubble wrap are all thrown away to languish in a dump for the rest of the lifetime. There is a lot of negative news around the packaging sector. Inordinate stuff, non-recyclable plastics, contamination in the ocean and dumpsites make for uncomfortable reading. As a result, it’s no wonder that ecologically friendly packaging solutions are growing increasingly popular as we become more conscious of our environmental impact.

Packaging companies have responded by investing in research and new product development, focusing on ecologically friendly packaging solutions. However, when packaging is described as “environmentally friendly”, what does it imply? Is it true that all of the promises made by companies are accurate?

Let us go deeper into knowing what is eco-friendly packaging and how to choose your product’s most eco-friendly packaging.

In This Article

Understanding Eco-Friendly Packaging?

A kind of environmentally friendly packaging that is safe and sustainable for both people and the environment is called eco-friendly packaging. It is frequently composed of recycled or renewable materials and must possess the significant characteristics of producing little to no waste in the environment.

Several characteristics may assist decide if the packaging is environmentally friendly. These features can provide considerable benefits to the businesses that utilise them.

cellophane block bottom bags

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection is the most evident element of sustainable packaging. This packaging, whether in the form of crates or boxes, is frequently made out of recycled environmentally friendly materials, reducing natural resource waste. Furthermore, the production process is more efficient, lowering the consumption of essential resources and lessening the negative environmental effect of the company.

Several characteristics may assist decide if the packaging is environmentally friendly. These features can provide considerable benefits to the businesses that utilise them.

High Abrasion Resistance

More vital and rigid materials may help you save money by lowering the number of materials you need while minimising damage and waste. They also allow for the creation of smaller, more compact packaging without compromising protection.

Lightweight

Transportation and distribution are more efficient with lighter protective packaging, resulting in considerable cost savings. With millions of tonnes of packing material used every year, a few grammes less each box may make a significant difference in the long run.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Benefits

Governments across the countries recognise the need to take action to lessen the effect of waste on the environment. When debris does not break down easily or compost, it becomes a protracted issue for which they must find a solution. Packaging that isn’t environmentally friendly is an eyesore and a logistical problem.

Sustainable packaging, green packaging, and environmentally-friendly packaging are all terms used to describe eco-friendly packaging. Packaging may be biodegradable, recyclable, reusable, non-toxic, created from recycled items, based on biomass or natural resources, or produced using low-impact methods to be environmentally friendly.

For example, Glass satisfies the concept of green packaging since it is both recyclable and endlessly reused. Glass may persist for millennia until it is shattered. However, to manufacture that glass, someone must gather silica – sand, which is in limited supply across the globe – and transport it to a plant. The vehicle burns gasoline and produces carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to global warming. Then, to melt and shape the silica into glass, electricity and other fuels are utilised to heat the furnace used to melt and create the glass. Machines are needed to mould the glass and paper and inks for printing and labelling the bottle.

Every time people utilises the bottle, the entire process of depleting natural resources happens one less time. And although transporting the bottles, melting them down, and reforming them may still need energy and produce carbon dioxide pollution, at least sand isn’t utilised, which is a material that experts are increasingly recommending be conserved.

Environmentally friendly goods and packaging may also be beneficial in other ways. They might be biodegradable or constructed of more sustainable, faster-replenishing natural materials such as bamboo. Bamboo, for example, may be harvested every two to three years for paper and other products, but a new tree might take up to 60 years to mature. Using less packaging is also a great approach to help the environment.

Statements on environmentally friendly packaging might be categorised as biodegradable, recyclable, compostable and reusable.

Biodegradable Packaging

Biodegradable packaging may be broken down spontaneously by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus in conditions of humidity and temperature,etc.. However, the word “biodegradable” does not imply anything about the length of time it takes to degrade or the characteristics of the final result. 

Plant-based materials and films are used in addition to paper and cardboard. They have the potential to disintegrate and break down into natural components in less than a year.  Although the majority of biodegradable packaging materials will wind up in landfills, their capacity to breakdown over time certainly helps the environment by decreasing waste.Polylactic Acid (PLA)  film, that it is derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugar cane, is the most often used material for biodegradable packaging.

Similarly, packaging items such as biodegradable plastic bags need special conditions to break down correctly and, if allowed to disintegrate in a landfill, may emit damaging greenhouse gases.

They decompose into tiny fragments of plastic, which might take a long time to disintegrate. As a result, although while decomposition is a natural process, it may nonetheless be damaging to the ecosystem.

Biodegradable polymers, on the other hand, disintegrate far quicker than regular plastics, which might take hundreds of years to dissolve. As a result, they seem to be a more ecologically responsible option.

tamper evident containers cellobags

Recyclable Packaging

Nowadays, the most popular sort of packaging is recyclable. Recycling is the process of transforming waste materials into new stuff to keep the debris out of landfills for longer. However, certain materials have a limit on how many times they may be recycled. Plastics and paper, for example, may often only be recycled a few times before becoming worthless, but glass, metal, and aluminium can be recycled indefinitely.

It’s worth noting that materials aren’t always recycled back into themselves. When certain materials, such as paper and plastic, are recycled, their quality degrades, and they are transformed into something of lesser value. A lot of plastic is being “downcycled” into more long-lasting things.

To move tiny package shipments from place to place, cardboard boxes, moulded pulp forms, and paper-based void fill are often utilised and may be recycled. The fact that most, if not all, recycled and recyclable paper packaging may entirely biodegrade at the end of its cycle adds to its eco-friendliness. It is preferable for this biodegradation to take place in a composting facility rather than a landfill. 

Normally there is no trouble recycling papers, but the situation is a little more difficult when it comes to plastics. There are seven main forms of plastic packaging, some of which are easily recyclable and others are nearly never.

Switching to reusable packaging options, such as boxes or mailing bags that can be reused for exchanges and returns, is another approach to recycle and keep items in circulation for longer.

NatureFlex Bags

Compostable Packaging

Compostable materials are created from natural ingredients like starch and breakdown completely into “compost” without leaving hazardous residue. Products must fulfil specified criteria in order to be classified as biodegradable.

Mounds of non-biodegradable rubbish and enormous islands of plastics suffocating our aquatic life are not part of the perfect planet. It is preferable if our waste simply decomposes and feeds the soil. That ideal has become a reality thanks to biodegradable packaging.

Plant-based packing peanuts, compostable mailers, bioplastics, and mushroom packaging are all biodegradable materials.

While cardboard may theoretically be composted, it isn’t practical on a large scale. In addition, customers aren’t putting entire boxes into their backyard compost piles. To properly finish the waste cycle, biodegradable packaging will rely on municipal compost and yard waste initiatives.

Compostable and biodegradable plastics are not yet recyclable, and putting them in a conventional recycling container may pollute the process. However, as technology advances, efforts are being made to produce biodegradable and recyclable options.

Commercially compostable goods must be sent to a facility where they can be adequately decomposed, which might be part of a city’s trash system. The simpler it will be to establish a strong compost culture as more communities join similar initiatives.

Even if biodegradable packaging ends up in a landfill rather than a compost heap, it will disintegrate more quickly than other materials.

Reusable Packaging

Reusable packaging was created with the intention of being cleaned and reused on several voyages. Packaging may be reused in a variety of creative and unusual ways, although it is mostly for economic and environmental reasons. Beer kegs and glass milk bottles are two examples of reusable products.

Reusable packaging is one of the most environmentally friendly packaging options, however it is not always practical for many enterprises.

Glass milk bottles, kegs, pallets, shipping containers, gas cylinders, and plastic totes are some of the most prevalent reusable packaging examples in the delivery and shipping business. This is a key component of the circular economy concept, which attempts to eliminate all waste.

The way these goods are used is moving away from the centre of the road. They’re employed by huge freight shipping companies as well as tiny local firms with their own more complicated delivery and return system.

The viability of reusable packaging for regular business-to-consumer shipping is contingent on the customers’ desire to return the container in which their cargo arrived. However, the package sees a lot of usage during its lifetime in the applications where it does function.

It must be discarded or, if feasible, recycled after it is no longer useful. Reusable packaging, although initially more expensive, is likely to be more cost-effective in the long term.

Is The Range Of Eco-Packaging Solutions Expanding?

There are a plethora of possibilities for replacing a hazardous substance with a more environmentally friendly packaging solution. Many recycled items have a wide range of packaging alternatives, including great printability and recycling simplicity. If a packaging is required, there is undoubtedly an environmentally friendly material that may be employed. 

When you choose green packaging, you may save money while also having a good influence on the environment and your organizational image.

Use Eco-Friendly Packaging To Boost Your Brand's Reputation

A company’s brand image may be improved by shifting to ecologically friendly packaging. Customers regard a firm as responsible and concerned about the environment when they hear that it uses sustainable materials. To put it another way, the company will retain and attract more consumers than it would otherwise. Increased profitability may be a result of the better brand image.

Furthermore, a rising number of corporations prefer to form exclusive agreements with enterprises that encourage long-term sustainability. Some stores, for example, will exclusively offer environmentally friendly items.

The Final Word

Our lack of concern for the environment, both mountains and large bodies of waters like Melbourne beaches, has a detrimental influence on our society’s well-being, which is one of the many things we might do to build a better environment. Eco-friendly packaging has come a long way in recent years. Using eco-friendly packaging has several benefits, whether for economic or environmental reasons. Hiring an eco-friendly packaging specialist is the best way to implement a sustainable development strategy that may help your business to new heights.