Waste, especially plastic waste, is a serious and growing problem that’s threatening the world’s oceans as well as putting pressure on scarce landfill sites. It’s estimated that over 13 million tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away as waste every day plus 1.5 million tonnes of paper packaging.
This is a problem that’s not going to go away unless drastic action is taken. That requires a complete redesign of the packaging we use and the way it’s used so it protects the environment better.
Considering Packaging’s Complete Lifecycle
When designing packaging to be eco-friendly, several factors need to be taken into account and these include the full lifecycle of each item:
- Materials. A lot of packaging is currently made from plastic, which doesn’t decompose easily and so constitutes a problem for very many years. It’s a by-product of fossil fuels such as crude oil or natural gas and emits harmful greenhouse gases during production.
Bioplastics are a better alternative since they’re made from natural materials such as starch and cellulose, both of which are found in organic waste. Bioplastics can themselves be treated as organic waste and can be recycled so are less harmful to the planet.
- Distribution. Packaging provides advertising for a product and also protects it during distribution. That transportation process also uses valuable resources and the aim should be to minimise this. It can be achieved by limiting the weight of packaging without compromising its resilience, reducing wasted space by making it stackable and avoiding secondary packaging where possible.
Clever design of packaging can reduce the need for internal partitions or packing to keep the products safe. This, of course, not only reduces manufacturing and transport costs but also uses fewer precious resources.
- Lifespan. A lot of packaging is single use and so is thrown away after a very short lifespan. Re-usable packaging will reduce this waste and requires that the packaging is durable, that its re-use is convenient or that it can be used for another purpose after delivery.
- End of Life. No matter how durable and flexible, all packaging will eventually reach the end of its useful life. At this point, it becomes waste and the aim is to ensure it doesn’t just go to landfill. All packaging should be made easy to recycle, to be re-usable or capable of being composted. That way, it won’t be a problem for the environment.
Practical and Environmentally Friendly Food Packaging
There are various ways to make food packaging more environmentally friendly. These include:
- using bags rather than boxes, which require less materials and fewer resources
- replacing plastic bags with biodegradable versions, such as those made from corn starch or vegetable oil
- including recycled materials in production to reduce the use of valuable resources
- using natural materials so production is more sustainable.
Food packaging, of course, has to be hygienic, attractive, convenient and it must protect the product. That doesn’t mean, however, that it can’t be more lightweight and environmentally friendly.
At Packqueen, all our packaging is designed and manufactured to be practical, effective and good looking. At the same time, we’re constantly refining and developing our methods and materials so our packaging is as good and eco-friendly as it can be.