Posted on March 16 2017 by Toni Nigrelli-LaFleur
Reduce, reuse, recycle–it’s the foundation of packaging sustainability, especially for plastic packaging, which has seen significant changes over the past 10 years. Open any popular packaging industry magazine and you’ll find at least one article addressing the issue.
In addition, more and more companies are initiating zero waste initiatives and increasing the use of flexible plastic as a primary packaging option and plastic shrink film for bundling and distribution. In fact, in the 2015 National Post-consumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report issued by the ACC, recycling of plastic wraps, bags and other film (including LDPE) increased 3% in 2015 from the previous year, totaling nearly 1.2 billion pounds.
So, where do you start exploring sustainable packaging? We’ve complied eight resources, from packaging design considerations to communicating to customers about how to recycle, to help you get started on creating your own zero waste initiative.
Sustainable Packaging Design Considerations
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition describes itself as a group of dedicated industry professionals committed to creating a more robust environmental vision for packaging. The site contains a wide variety of resources for members and non-members on sustainable packaging, design, labeling, material recovery and recycling.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers’ APR Design Guide for Plastic Recyclability outlines recommendations for recycling plastic in the marketplace today. It covers a wide range of plastics including Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET); High Density Polyethylene (HDPE); Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC); LDPE, LLDPE, and HDPE Film; Polypropylene (PP), Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), and Polystyrene (PS) Packaging.
Released in November 2016, the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Playbook made waves throughout the industry, and is intended to act as a guidebook for suppliers. The three priorities outlined by Walmart–Optimize Design, Source Sustainably, and Support Recycling–aims to reduce the overall environmental and social impacts of packaging, while continuing to provide quality products to customers.
Packaging Types and Packaging Equipment
Okay, so I might be a little biased here, but EDL’s Packaging Industry Insights blog offers valuable information on packaging reduction. Manufacturers evaluating sustainable packaging options can gain insight into the different types of secondary packaging available, and how primary packaging can affect your secondary packaging choices.
Completed in January 2014, this report looks at how energy consumption and greenhouse gases would be impacted by the use of packaging alternatives in North America.
The study, completed in 2016, provides information about source reduction, characteristics of efficient and sustainable product and packaging sustainability, cradle-to-grave analyses of packaging materials, and how packaging decisions reflect consumer needs and expectations.
Recycling and Reusing Plastic Film and Primary Packaging
Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) is a public awareness campaign designed to motivate stakeholders, including manufacturers, to recycle plastic film packaging. Among other actions taken, WRAP has implemented placement of How2Recycle labels on primary packaging film packaging. Communication and awareness is one of the first steps towards achieving zero waste–programs like these aim to accomplish just that.
What happens when primary packaging is unrecyclable? TerraCycle, Inc., turns the difficult-to-recycle products, like stand-up pouches, into useful products. Its mission is to “Eliminate the Idea of Waste” by partnering with CPG, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities and small businesses to create free recycling programs.
Are you exploring packaging reduction? Contact us today to learn more about secondary packaging solutions and how primary packaging can affect your secondary packaging.
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