According to statistics, plastic recycling rose from 38% to more than 40 % in 2016. Households produce 64% of post-consumer plastic packaging waste, while industries generate 36%. Although packaging materials protect the quality and safety of products, they can negatively impact the environment, damaging scarce resources, and leading to serious ecological problems.
Packaging materials that are not eco-friendly directly or indirectly affect the environment, causing water pollution, soil degradation and air pollution. Consequently, this seriously impacts the sustainability of resources and the environment. As much as it is important to keep shipping costs low, always choose the types of packaging with eco-friendly materials.
Businesses are now focusing on new designs and production methods that emit fewer carbon gases to the environment. The cradle-to-cradle concept is one of the initiatives manufacturers are embracing in their bid to adopt eco-friendly processes. Below are 8 types of packaging materials:
1. Biodegradable Packaging Peanuts
Awareness of packaging materials’ effects on the environment has made way for new packaging materials and methods. Biodegradable packaging peanuts are more eco-friendly compared to other traditional polystyrene packaging peanuts. Biodegradable packaging peanuts dissolve easily in water since they are made from natural, non-toxic sources such as wheat and cornstarch. Additionally, they don’t stick to clothes since they do not have an electrostatic charge. However, they raise the cost of shipping and production.
2. Corrugated Cardboard Packaging
Today, many industries are using corrugated cardboard to pack their products. Corrugated cardboard packaging enables industries to protect the quality of their products and packages of different weights. It is, therefore, a sustainable packaging solution. Moreover, corrugated cardboards are customizable and cost-effective. The bubble wrap packaging, which is not the most eco-friendly, has given way to alternative wraps such as the corrugated cardboard. This type of wrap can be used as cushioning material.
3. Air Pillows
Air pillows packaging made of recyclable materials is one of the eco-friendly packaging alternatives. They are easy to dispose of and are ideal for cushioning products to avoid damage while in transit. Furthermore, air pillows are made from recyclable material and are ideal for void fill. They protect products during shipping and are easy to use. Air pillows are made from 100 percent recycled biodegradable materials.
4. Cornstarch Packaging
Cornstarch is derived from corn. Though it has plastic-like properties, it is renewable. It’s biodegradable and non-toxic and produces low carbon emissions. Moreover, it is the most environmentally sustainable alternative to petroleum products-based packaging. However, cornstarch has its downside: it competes for animal and human food products, increasing the cost of dietary staples in the market.
5. Mushroom Packaging
This type of packaging is eco-friendly. It is ideal for packaging small materials. It is made of clean ground wastes from agricultural products, which are blended with mycelium. The raw material produced makes different shapes that are left to dry before being used to pack small items. Mushroom packaging raw materials do not use air-polluting petroleum products. Besides, they are highly biodegradable.
6. Seaweed Packaging
Seaweed has for some time been used in many applications, especially in the food industry where it has been used as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin, and as a thickener. Realizing the versatility of seaweed, packaging designers have started prototyping the use of this material for packaging purposes. Since seaweed is readily available in large volumes, seaweed packaging is likely to become the most popular eco-friendly packaging option in the coming years.
7. Recycled Paper and Cardboard
Although cardboard and paper are organic, they can negatively affect the environment if they are sourced unsustainably. Essentially, you should only use eco-friendly post-consumer or post-industrial recycled paper. Moreover, use materials which are FSC-certified; they come from sustainably managed forests.
8. Recycled and Eco-Friendly Plastic
During shipping, products require proper protection, so they don’t arrive damaged. Moreover, to support heavy material loads, you need a sturdy yet eco-friendly material such as recycled plastic that can withstand such loads. As much as there are other alternatives to plastics, sometimes they are the only option available. Nonetheless, it is important to choose eco-friendly materials for packaging your products.
The world is experiencing massive climate-induced changes that threaten to destabilize life as we know it. One of the causes of this state of affairs is the proliferation of non-degradable solid waste. To minimize such waste, the packaging industry is increasingly using biodegradable eco-friendly packaging materials. This is to avoid the negative environmental effects of traditional packaging and to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Besides, the current global campaign about going green, which makes it imperative for every business to adopt eco-friendly processes to conserve and preserve the environment, is applying pressure on organizations and businesses to adopt responsible eco-friendly business practices. As a result, smart business owners are shifting to eco-friendly packaging materials. Additionally, affordably priced environment-friendly packaging materials are a huge motivation for businesses to go green.