Why plastic isn’t always the ‘bad guy’

There’s no denying that plastic is a hot topic in the news agenda, and this doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Businesses are being urged to rethink their environmental responsibilities and take immediate action. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that they highlight the role of plastics in sustainable packaging to help grow consumer awareness. 

The release of Blue Planet II in 2017 seemed to kickstart a sustainable movement, often referred to as the ‘war on plastic,’ and encouraged businesses to take action as viewers tuned in to see the substantial impact that plastic waste is having on our oceans. 

The UK Government has already announced plans to ban plastic utensils, including plastic straws and cotton buds, which is expected to come into force between October 2019 and October 2020.i  Businesses have also started to adapt their processes to cut down on plastic and look for alternative materials.ii 

Although action needs to be taken to reduce the amount of single-use plastics, certain plastics can still play an important part in sustainable packaging, particularly with a greater number of environmentally-friendly options now available. 

Businesses need to emphasise the importance of re-use and recycling to consumers – here are some top tips to take into consideration for companies looking to make responsible packaging choices:

Reduced energy consumption

Although plastic is presumed to be the least environmentally friendly, research from the University of Oregon showed that it actually had a lower carbon footprint than cotton or paper bags due to the minimal waste produced in the petrochemical process. There are reprocessed plastics on the market too that further combat the misconception that plastic is bad for the environment, plus many plastics can be recycled quite easily.iii

Plastic is a light material and therefore helps to reduce packaging weight, which in turn reduces the number of trucks delivering the same amount of product, thus decreasing costs, energy consumptions and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Re-use and recycling

Photo: AirPouch GeoTech Reprocessed material for protective packagingThe UK Government’s stance is clear: it is looking to reduce waste by increasing recycling and the re-use of plastic and there are many innovative packaging options to choose from such as our GeoTech® Reprocessed material which is made up of pre-consumer recycled plastic, reducing environmental impact without compromising performance or quality. 

In fact, 40% of our protective packaging customers are already choosing GeoTech® Reprocessed material. Find out more about our protective packaging range and eco-friendly options.

There’s never been a better time to move to recyclable packaging. There’s not only a huge consumer demand, but we’re also starting to see plans for changes to Government legislation surrounding plastic and recyclable materials. 

Responsible disposal 

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled and therefore must be disposed of responsibly. Clear labelling is needed to make it as easy as possible to identify the recyclability and so consumers are aware of the end-of-life options. 

Increasingly, businesses have an important role to play in raising consumer awareness about the re-use and recycling of plastic and its contribution to sustainable packaging. 

A more responsible use of plastic combined with higher-quality materials could ultimately significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or ending up in the ocean. 

For more information on how you can help, visit our sustainability hub.

i https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/top-story/plastic-straws-set-banned-england-22-10-2018 
ii https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/09/19/brands-taking-advantage-war-on-plastic
iii https://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2012/expert/expert-article

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