With EU targets looking to ensure 75% of packaging waste is recycled by 2030, what can businesses do to ensure they're on track to meet this goal?
With growing concerns over climate change and the future of the planet, the EU have put in place ambitious legislation in an attempt to vastly decrease the amount of waste produced in Europe with a common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030. It's been long known that the packaging industry has been under pressure to scale back in creating problems for the environment, with the UK alone producing 10 million tons of packaging waste a year. With this stress ever mounting, what materials can businesses use when packaging to help achieve these EU targets?
Traditional packaging products like styrofoam balls are harmful to the environment as they are unable to decay, meaning they will stay formed on the planet for hundreds and thousands of years leaking toxic residue into the earth. Styrofoam is not only unable to break down but is also produced with petroleum, a non-natural resource which causes air pollution. An alternative to this earth-damaging product is starch based loose fill chips, which are 100% biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Not only are they positively impacting the environment, but these packaging materials can be bought in bulk at a low cost. Another new biodegradable plastic-like technology which has recently been released by EcoActive is called Mushroom packaging and is produced using their thread-like roots called “mycelium”. This material is grown rather than manufactured and has been adopted by industry giants like Dell.
Paper is already one of the most recycled packaging materials in the EU with a recycling rate of 71.7% in 2014. By switching your packaging solutions to paper materials that are made from recycled products will enable this figure to increase further. Corrugated paper is a firm favorite in packaging even without taking its eco-friendly nature into consideration. Recycled corrugated paper is not only lightweight, but, due to its construction, it is extremely durable. This combination makes it an ideal solution as it reduces the weight of your product, reducing shipping costs while impacting positively the environment. Not only will your costs be reduced by the lightweight nature of corrugated packing paper but purchasing recycled paper products is usually cheaper than virgin materials.
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Plastic is the packaging material of choice for many industries. It offers a great protective barrier due to its resilient and lightweight nature. Investing in the use of recycled plastics for packaging helps your company demonstrate their commitment to environmental change. 52% of consumers said their decision is influenced due to the social responsibility of the company. Companies like Innocent and Coca-Cola and Halfords currently use recycled plastic in their packaging. Utilizing these products will not only help meet the EU targets but introducing your brands promise to sustainability as part of your marketing strategy can increase the popularity of your brand with consumers. Companies are using not only recycled plastics but also alternatives such as biopolythene. Hovis uses this material for their bread packaging. Made from ethanol, this product has a 75% smaller carbon footprint than traditional bread packaging materials.
Often when consumers purchase items they’re met with more packaging than considered necessary. In recent months, Amazon has come under fire for leaving customers inconvenienced with the levels of excess packaging. Customers drive business, so leaving them feeling unsatisfied will have a negative impact on business. Reducing your company’s packaging materials by using only what is necessary can impact the bank balance of your company as well as the environment. Kodak is one of the brands leading the way with minimal packaging, promising to ensure maximum protection and reducing their box sizes between 10-15%. (Source: Kodak)
With the EU targets still a million miles away, businesses have a responsibility to ensure they’re doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint. Not only does it positively impact the way your consumers see you and helps safeguard the future of the planet for future generations but the monetary gain is just as appealing. Can your business afford not to catch on to the sustainable trend for 2016?
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by Suzanne Vallance
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Vallance is an SEO Analyst from Glasgow, Scotland. After working with renewable energy installers, her interest in sustainable living grew. She now writes articles focusing on eco-friendly living for both domestic life and businesses.
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