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    Why Companies Should Consider Biodegradable, Compost or Other Forms of Sustainable Packaging

    Preface:

    The packaging industry is currently on blast, meaning, there are hundreds if not thousands of reports on how single-use and nonrecyclable packaging is devastating some of the most beautiful places on the planet. There have been disturbing videos of trash, debris, and indecomposable plastics washing up on shore in waves, literally. Single-use plastics are no doubt the culprit; often dumped into the ocean, river and washed down by rainstorms that result in huge environmentally impactful phenomenon like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Beirut’s River of Garbage (Lebanon), La Pasion River crisis and the Dominican Republic beach full of trash.

    Solutions:

    While many city, state and federal governments have established prohibitions on single-use plastics, that will likely not be enough to reduce the impact that has already been done. In fact, there may not be a reasonable solution for years to come. However, companies who rely on plastics do have options for reducing their impact on the environment moving forward. A company who wants to be more environmentally responsible can do so in a variety of different ways:

    1. Reduce/ eradicate single-use plastics altogether.
    2. Use biodegradable plastic material for parts that will decompose.
    3. Make the product easy to recycle.
    4. Use environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

     

    Eco-friendly Packaging Solutions

    Single-use packaging (grocery store bags, meat packaging, plastic wrapping, etc.) is one of the biggest contributors to the environmental crisis. The plastic is bad for the ecosystem, the animals that live there and will be bad for humans too! We are not immune to the chemicals that plastic can release once it is broken down by sea water; it can even end up in the food we eat like fish!

    The best thing to do as a company going forward is finding solutions for packaging that can reduce the impact your product makes on the environment. Surprisingly, there are a lot of options and the list is growing as we progress with technology and awareness. Even if your company is committed to using plastic packaging, there are ways to make that packaging less or completely impactful on the environment. These changes can be costly or cost-effective, but either way, the environment will be the ultimate beneficiary of the move. However, your company can benefit too! There are plenty of branding opportunities with biodegradable plastics, and often consumers will look to see if you’re being environmentally responsible. Now more than ever!

    If you want some examples of creative ideas for sustainable packaging, check out this blog post.

    Authors note: My favorite packaging solution story is that of Saltwater Brewery’s Eco-Six Pack Rings. These rings are a really great solution to the disparaged plastic-ringed six packs.

    Scroll to the bottom to see how our company has helped with our customer’s products and packaging.

    Biodegradable vs Compostable

    Many consumers and producers confuse these two terms. Read this statement from a Wikipedia source that helps separate the two terms:

    Many people confuse “biodegradable” with “compostable”. “Biodegradable” broadly means that an object can be biologically broken down, while “compostable” typically specifies that such a process will result in compost or humus.[3] Many plastic manufacturers throughout Canada and the US have released products indicated as being compostable. The waste management infrastructure currently recycles regular plastic waste, incinerates it, or places it in a landfill. Mixing biodegradable plastics into the regular waste infrastructure poses some dangers to the environment.
    There is a major discrepancy between this definition and what one would expect from a backyard composting operation. With the inclusion of “inorganic compounds”, the above definition allows that the end product might not be hummus, an organic substance. The only criterion the ASTM standard definition did outline is that a compostable plastic has to become “not visually distinguishable” at the same rate as something that has already been established as being compostable under the traditional definition.

    How Plastics Plus Technology has Helped its Customers Find More Sustainable Solutions:

    For some of our customers, we offer biodegradable low-density polyethylene bags (ECLE).
    These bags contain an additive that helps the material breakdown without compromising specs
    like:

    • Shelf-life,
      Strength,
      Clarity
      Printability

    The biodegradable bags break down when in contact with other biodegradable substances found in landfills, home, and garden compost. The bags are offered in different colors, thicknesses and can be run on automated packaging systems. For more info on the bags itself, visit our supplier www.autobag.com.

    Although not the only way, biodegradable packaging is one way to leave the planet less impacted by consumers. Like anything else, these bags and other sustainable packaging systems have to be disposed of properly to have the desired effect on the environment.