Alternatives to Plastic Packaging
It’s time to talk packaging. For so long, much of the industrialized world has relied on some form of plastic packaging in order to ship and promote products. However, plastic is hard to get rid of. Although recycling programs are now in place for many areas, far too much plastic still ends up in landfills or in oceans, polluting our planet. These alternatives to plastic packaging are looking to help solve this problem and push packaging into a new, sustainable era.
Reusable packaging is one example of alternatives to plastic packaging that will help solve the “one and done” problem of plastic packaging. Believe it or not, reusable packaging is most frequently found at the industrial scale. Items such as metal drums for storing liquids, wooden pallets, and plastic tote boxes are perfect examples of reusable packaging. Examples in everyday life include tupperware, cloth grocery bags, and Mason jars. Reusable packaging is a great way to get creative and easily make a positive impact on the environment. There are plenty of ways to engage in reusable packaging. Start by bringing those reusable grocery bags to the store!
Of the alternatives to plastic packaging, organic packaging is one of the best. Organic packaging means that all components of the packaging are made of natural materials and can be composted without harming the environment. Common examples of organic packaging include paper-based candy wrappers, cardboard coffee mugs, plant-based “plastics” that will biodegrade. Although organic packaging has not caught on on a large scale yet, companies are beginning to investigate ways to incorporate these alternatives to plastic packaging into everyday production.
One thing that many people do not realize is that alternatives to plastic packaging encompass more than just a box or a bag. The resins and glues on plastic packaging are often highly toxic to the environment. Companies have created alternatives to plastic packaging resins by using glues that are now plant-based. One example is a resin that is water-soluble and made from plant fibers and gum tree resin. This resin holds just like glue, but will not harm the environment after the packaging has been discarded.
In the past, alternatives to plastic packaging have most definitely included foam. However, foam traditionally is either non-biodegradable or takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Many organizations are now pursuing environmentally friendly foam options. These types of foam packaging are generally made from cornstarch, and will completely biodegrade after used for packaging. Of course, the foam can also be reused, if you want to be a real packaging aficionado!