Biodegradable Packaging & Other Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Options
These days, we hear a lot of “eco-friendly” words tossed around. These include terms such as biodegradable packaging, compostable packaging, recycled content and recyclable packaging. While there is much confusion regarding all of these terms, the good news is that there are many excellent sustainable options available to our customers, including the following.
Compostable Packaging & Biodegradable Packaging
When creating your custom packaging, we can use materials that are compostable or biodegradable, but there is a significant difference between these two types of packaging. Compostable packaging usually can be tossed into a curbside green waste bin along with most food waste, grass cuttings and other items. As long as a consumer is aware that these packages must be placed in green waste (and not in a traditional recycling bin), this can be a very sustainable choice.
Biodegradable packaging is packaging that will break down and biodegrade, which is a good thing. Sometimes biodegradable packaging is compostable, and sometimes it is not. In some cases, this type of packaging must be sent to a facility that has the processes in place to complete this biodegradation process. You cannot place biodegradable packaging in a regular recycling bin nor can it go into the green waste bin, unless the materials used are biodegradable and compostable, which is an option. There are facilities that process biodegradable packages, but they aren’t always easy for the average consumer to locate. Therefore, most biodegradable packaging will simply be tossed into a regular trash can and placed in a landfill. You might think that this is fine, after all, won’t this packaging just biodegrade in the landfill? Typically biodegradable plastics must be heated to a certain temperature or exposed to a specific amount of UV radiation in order to degrade and these conditions are not always available at a landfill.
Of course, there are still many positive aspects about biodegradable plastics. After all, these plastics are created from plant-based materials rather than petroleum. Using renewable resources is always a good idea, and producing these plastics also produces far less CO2 emissions. If you are interested in either biodegradable packaging or compostable packaging, we can discuss these options with you during the design process.
Recycled Materials (Post-Consumer & Pre-Consumer)
When you head out to the store, you probably notice that some of your packaging might include words such as “contains recycled content” or “post-consumer materials used” or even “created from 100% recycled material. Your custom packaging can be creating use all new materials, some new and some used, or all used (recycled) material.
Post-consumer materials are materials that have been used by the consumer. For instance, when a person uses a water bottle and places it into their recycling bin, this bottle can be used again to make something new. Pre-consumer materials are basically materials that were used, perhaps at a factory during the production process, but never actually sold to consumers. Using these materials can be an excellent and cost-effective strategy, and once a consumer is done with your product or package, the materials simply can be tossed into a recycling bin.
Of course, keep in mind, that virtually all of the materials that we use are recyclable, so even if you don’t end up selected a recycled material or a compostable material or perhaps a biodegradable packaging option, you can select materials that are quite easy for consumers to recycle. For instance, you might have your package or product created using PET, which is one of the easiest materials to recycle, accepted by most curbside recycling centers. We also can create packaging using combination designs that incorporate paperboard or pulp, which can reduce the amount of plastic that we need to use in order to make your packaging.
If you are interested in learning more about your sustainable packaging options, including biodegradable packaging or compostable packaging, don’t hesitate to give us a call at any time. Since 1967, the team at Indepak has been focused on creating high-quality, affordable packaging in the most sustainable way possible.