Packaging waste makes up to 30% of the total solid waste generated. The majority of this waste is made of non-degradable material and the increased use of such synthetic packaging films has led to serious ecological problems. A lot of people think that plastic is recyclable- and yes it is right to some extent (not all the plastic types are recyclable). But it does not mean that all the recyclable plastic ends up at the recycling center. In Europe, 70% of recyclable plastics end up in a landfill or oceans. Several thousand tons of goods, made of plastic materials, are landfilled, increasing every year the problem of municipal waste disposal.
The growing environmental awareness imposes user-friendly and eco-friendly attributes to both packaging films and processes. As a consequence, biodegradability is not only a functional requirement but also an important environmental attribute.
Biodegradable packaging refers to packaging material that’s made up of biopolymers which are molecules often found in living organisms, like cellulose and proteins. This means they can be safely consumed, degrade quickly, and often be created from waste plant products. They are produced from renewable sources such as plant-based materials like starch, cellulose, plant oil, sugar, reed, etc.
Advantages of using Biodegradable Packaging
It is a fact most of the waste generated, ends up in landfills and is left there for self-degradation. The degradation process of plastics is quite harmful. As plastic degrades over hundreds of years, it can also release toxic substances such as bisphenol A, which can disrupt the hormonal systems of animals.
Hence opting for biodegradable packaging is a most looked out solution as it is eco-friendly and does not harm the environment. Following are some of the advantages of using biodegradable packaging.
1. Reduced Carbon Footprint
Since biodegradable packaging materials are made from recycled materials instead of chemicals and plastics, they are better for the environment. Since the packaging is eco-friendly, it reduces the amount of wasted materials and consumption of resources. Both efforts help to minimize the carbon footprint of humans while meeting the high standards of environmental compliance.
2. Easy Disposal
No matter what type of packaging and shipping materials is used, they should be either recyclable or biodegradable. Eco-friendly packaging simplifies the disposal of shipping materials because of the biodegradable composition. The composition doesn’t require as many resources to breakdown the packaging after its intended use. If the packaging is clearly labeled recyclable packaging then it can be thrown into your recycling bin for re-use.
3. No Harmful Plastics
Using eco-friendly packaging allows you to reduce the amount of plastic that you use. Using non- sustainable petrochemical resources which are a part of all traditional plastics requires a lot of energy. Petrochemical products usually tend to litter public places and have been linked with health problems when used with food.
Another great benefit of biodegradable shipping supplies is the versatility of the packaging. Packaging and shipping materials can typically be re-used and re-purposed in most major industries. Anything from storing office supplies to packaging electronic devices, there is most certainly an eco-friendly material available to fulfill the need of the business.
Since we’ve been talking about it, this point seems obvious. But, one of the major benefits of biodegradable packaging is its sustainability. Most of the materials used can be categorized under the three Rs of sustainability: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Reduce focuses on using tougher, yet thinner, materials that can do the same job as traditional materials, but with less.
Reuse focuses efforts on creating items that can be reused after the first use is completed. Making shipping materials that are stronger and safer helps encourage businesses and individuals to reuse each item.
Recycle, focuses on producing products that are largely comprised of previously recycled materials. It can then be recycled by the business or the consumer receiving the packaged product.
6. Improves the brand image
Eco-friendly packaging creates a good impression of your company as this displays that you care about the environment as well as depicting that you are a responsible company. A recent study discovered that 78% of customers between the ages of 18-72 felt more positive about a product whose packaging was made up of recycled items.
7. Free of Toxins & Allergens
Biodegradable packaging options are still somewhat limited, but most of the available materials are non-toxic and allergy-free. This is an essential consideration to consumers who care about the products they’re purchasing and the composition of their packaging. If either is potentially harmful, it hurts a business.
8. Require Fewer Resources
Biodegradable packaging has the potential to reduce water usage, solid waste, electricity and emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, of course, but it also lowers expenses associated with the packaging process. Over time, the accumulated savings prove well worth the cost of the transition. If a company were to replace their standard packaging materials with bioplastic, they would enjoy weight savings on par with regular plastic.
Which are Packaging Material are Eco-friendly?
Many biodegradable and Eco-friendly packaging material are nowadays available in the market. Below are the most common examples of packaging that naturally decompose:
- Paper: It’s a great packaging option since it’s reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, and can be used for any purpose. Most of the paper packaging we see everyday are made out of recycled paper.
- Cardboard – Due to its sturdy form, cardboard is another awesome alternative for packaging. Cardboard that isn’t laminated decomposes easily.
- Corn starch – Packing ‘peanuts’ (protective packaging used to hold fragile items in place) can be made using corn or plant starch material. This type of packaging can be used in lieu of plastic bubble wrap. Starch-made packing peanuts are fully biodegradable.
- Bagasse paper – This packaging material is made from the extracted juice of sugarcane fibre pulp. Bagasse paper is commonly used to replace traditional paper packaging in food services.
Towards a Better Future
When reviewing the benefits listed above, business owners should feel confident in their decision to adopt biodegradable packaging. More than superficial benefits, they’ll enjoy reduced costs and carbon emissions while increasing consumer convenience and reducing plastic pollution. The advantages are clear.
Looking toward the future, it’s safe to speculate more companies will transition toward eco-friendly practices. With this in mind, taking action now is the best option, and though biodegradable packaging is a small step, it’s an important one.
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