When it comes to sustainable packaging materials, most have some sort of detrimental effect on the environment so it is important to compare plastic, glass and paperboard. With that in mind, let’s explore sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging.
Plastic, while being one of the most flexible materials ever invented for packaging, is getting a bad rap—and rightly so. California banning plastic straws is just the beginning, and is leading people to think, “We need to ban plastic from our lives.” While not completely practical at this time, more and more people are seeing the long-term detrimental effects of packaging formed out of fossil fuels e.g. plastic grocery bags, dumped on the roads, consumed by stray animals or landing our oceans, choking the wildlife, and taking thousands of years to decompose.
So, with the above it is obvious that plastic is a big NO when it comes to sustainability. How about considering glass as an alternative to plastic? Studies conclude that when looking at environment friendliness, recycled glass is a passive material which is again water resistant and food safe.
But is that enough? Glass is a man-made material, which takes the longest to create packaging from. Per the estimation by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, almost 1 million years are needed for decomposing a glass bottle into the environment. In fact, if glass is dumped into landfills, sometimes it never decomposes.
To look at a broader spectrum, we consider the goal of sustainability in business where it would be easy to strengthen and regenerate the planet for future generations. Sustainable packaging therefore isn’t a simple requirement to solve.
Before concentrating on the usability of paperboard, let’s have a quick look at the table below:
|Renewable, sustainably grown material
|Ability to use recycled content
|Energy, resource and pollution from manufacturing
|End-of-life, ability and likelihood of being recycled or disposed of properly
To start with, paperboard sources back to trees which again are renewable resources. As per Environment Protection Act (EPA), almost 64 percent of the paper and paperboard was recycled and was generated as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in 2015. With this, the CPA (Corrugated Packaging Alliance) also states that over 90% of corrugated / cardboard is being currently in a recyclable stage.
The texture of paperboard enables multiple recycles before its fibers become short enough to be remade into any other paper product. Moreover, this can be composted minus any food or grease on it. However, even if it happens to end up as litter, it won’t take much time to biodegrade, causing minimal harm to ocean life.
Now comes paperboard’s strengths. Paperboard is mostly used for its lightweight and robust nature. Moreover, it can be easily cut and formed, thus being an excellent option for packaging.
Paperboard as a form of sustainable packaging stands out with its unique features. Its smooth and easy to fold nature makes it more adaptable to different product packaging needs. Let’s take a deeper look:
- Ecologically outstanding: Paperboard packaging is the eco-friendliest option. Its composition does not include a tinge of plastic or polythene portion. Its unmatched qualities give proof of its eco-friendliness without the addition of any harmful substances to the soil.
- Consumers choice: From the customer’s perspective, paperboard packaging can be quite beneficial. As a printing medium it works very well, with a clear views of the manufacturing and expiry dates of the products, for example. Thus, customers can compare the products from different brands regarding their prices, specifications, and the latest manufacturing dates, along with the maintenance of product quality and security.
- Sustainable usage: Paperboard manufacturing is completely sustainable.
The features above clearly show the strengths of paperboard and its benefits over plastic and glass as the best option for sustainable packaging. For more information, please reach out to Carton Service.