Whether it’s greenhouse gas emissions, the state of the ozone layer or climate change, the environment is a hot issue. But as the recent Paris Summit of over 195 countries demonstrates, there is an increased commitment to responding to the environmental problems faced by the world – now and in the future. A major part of this response has been an emphasis on sustainability and developing a more sustainable approach. This has shifted the spotlight on to the present and future use of plastics, particularly plastic packaging.
So if plastic is your packaging material of choice, is there a way you can take a more sustainable approach? Read on to find out more.
The many benefits of plastic packaging
Plastic packaging is an incredibly useful product. Not only does it enable companies to prevent breakages and minimalise spoilage, but it can extend the freshness of food and other produce. Compared to other packaging materials, it’s also more energy efficient. Businesses can use less and lighter packaging than alternative options, and by conserving fuel in shipping, energy is saved and overall costs are also reduced. As a result of these obvious benefits, more and more companies now use plastic packaging materials.
The environmental costs
Unfortunately, this increase in popularity has not been without environmental cost. Not only does plastic production use the finite raw resources of oil and gas, but it emits relatively high levels of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, marine litter caused by discarded plastics has caused damage to the world’s ocean sea beds and eco life systems. But perhaps the biggest cost to the environment due to plastic packaging lies in the increased use of landfill space.
Regrettably, the majority of plastics used today are still not biodegradable. This means that once thrown away, this type of plastic packaging often ends up in a landfill site where it will not rot or decompose, but rather blight the environment for thousands of years.
The case for recyclable plastics
Developing a more sustainable approach requires rethinking how plastic is used as a packaging material. Taking advantage of its strong durability, one option has been to encourage the reuse of plastic packaging. A more long-term, sustainable approach however is the development and growth of recyclable plastic packaging.
An alternative to traditional forms of polythene, recyclable plastic packaging offers a number of important environmental benefits. It helps to reduce the demand for the raw materials of oil and gas and it produces less or no greenhouse gas emissions in its production. Moreover, producing recyclable plastics uses less energy than traditional plastics, and it can help to reduce the demand for landfill space. As more used plastic packaging is recycled, fewer materials are placed in landfill.
The sustainable choice: Marpak Green
Choosing recyclable plastic means you can still enjoy the many benefits of plastic as a packaging material, but without the associated environmental costs. But how do you know which type of recyclable plastic to choose? Is one more sustainable than another? The answer is yes – not all recyclable plastic materials are equal. Oxo-degradable plastics will biodegrade if exposed to light, heat or oxygen, but are unlikely to decompose in landfill due to the lack of oxygen and sunlight.
The better and most sustainable choice lies in choosing a bio-based plastic product such as Marpak Green. This eco-friendly alternative to traditional polythene products is produced from 100% renewable sugarcane ethanol and is fully recyclable. Available as a premium grade polythene film substitute, this packaging material is as strong and durable as traditional alternatives. This means that not only are you able to enjoy the benefits that traditional plastic packaging offers, but you can also make a positive contribution to the environment by taking a more sustainable approach.
At Marpak Extrusions we are developers and producers of Marpak Green, we specialise in renewable, eco-friendly, high quality plastic film production. If you or your company are interested in finding out more about sustainable and environmentally friendly substitutes to traditional polythene packaging, get in touch today by calling 0843 289 0273 or contact us online.