Eco-Friendly Steps The Packaging Industry Will Take To Reduce Carbon Emissions
If you’re looking for eco-friendly packaging, Gateway Packaging provides sustainable solutions. Many businesses large and small are changing their packaging, to help achieve the primary goals of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Not only do the targets call for 100% of Australia’s packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025, but also single-use plastic packaging will be phased out. In addition, 70% of plastic packaging will be recycled or composted.
Although the targets seemed aggressive when they were set in 2018, they’re looking more achievable now. For many businesses, a move to reusable, recyclable or compostable will require a period of transition.
You may be wondering what’s meant by reusable, recyclable or compostable.
The 2025 packaging targets: reusable, recyclable, or compostable
As reusable suggests, many companies are looking at circular packaging options for industry clients, as well as for consumers. (Circular meaning reusable: packaging is returned to the originator and used again, many times.)
The circular economy is developing rapidly, in order to phase out single-use operations. In industry, circular packaging depends on apps and QR codes, as well as on materials such as cardboard boxes and bags which can be unzipped, then shipped back to their source, and used again.
Consumers are familiar with reusable packaging: that is, products in containers which can be returned to their source, and refilled. In the USA, large brands are experimenting with reusable packaging. As processes are refined, reusable packaging will become commonplace.
With industries expanding their research to develop new processes for recyclable packaging, costs are going down. For example, in the paper industry, a new development in paper barrier coating promises to expand recycling in paper mills beyond 25 times.
What about plastics however? A report established that only around 9% of plastics are ever recycled. A Finnish development promises to change this. It promises that a new gasification process can change waste plastics into virgin materials infinitely.
Compostable materials appeal to industry, as well as to consumers. However, there’s much confusion around what “compostable” means.
Additionally, new research shows bioplastics may be dangerous when added to landfill sites. Since bioplastics need high-temperature industrial composting processes to be broken down, and few facilities exist for this, they release methane gas when sent to landfills. Methane is 25 times more detrimental to the environment than carbon dioxide.
What about single-use plastic packaging—can it be phased out?
Australia takes steps to phase out single-use plastic packaging
Research shows that Australia generates 2.5m tonnes of plastic waste annually; over 80% of this waste goes to landfills. However, most Australian states are committed to banning many forms of single-use plastic packaging by 2025.
The bans extend not only to plastic bags, but also to single-use plastics used in food presentation, especially takeaway food: plastic straws, and polystyrene food and drink containers. The self-care and cosmetics industry is also committed to eliminating plastic microbeads. These tiny, plastic beads damage the environment; worldwide, plastic microbeads have been added to lists of unsafe and banned toxic materials.
What about the other major target for plastics: that 70% of plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025?
The big challenge: recycling and composting 70% of plastic packaging by 2025
Unfortunately, some 80% of plastic waste is sent to landfills. Reducing that figure is challenging. It’s been suggested that without stringent efforts, by 2040 virgin plastic manufacturing could double.
Many of Australia’s leading companies are looking for ways to evaluate, redefine, and redesign plastic packaging. Since so much plastic ends up in landfills, companies are looking not only at ways to minimise the use of plastics in packaging, but also at using only those plastics which can be recycled, or composted.
In the food industry, researchers are developing new, sustainable, and environmentally friendly forms of plastic packaging, similar to PET packaging.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a polyester resin used in both rigid and flexible food packaging, as well as in other industries. The big advantages of PET plastics are that they’re not only 100% recyclable, but also that they’re lightweight; this helps with transport costs. PET plastics are safe for foods and beverages.
Although PET plastics can be recycled, they’re fossil-fuel based. This means that much research is going into bioplastics, even though more industrial composting facilities will need to be built to handle them.
Are you looking for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions? Gateway Packaging can help.
Gateway Packaging offers eco-friendly, sustainable packaging solutions
Gateway Packaging offers a range of eco packaging products. These products include paper bags, both padded and utility, as well as eco-friendly bubble film.
If you need advice on any form of packaging, please get in touch with us at Gateway Packaging.