If it seems like plastic has been in the news lately, you’re probably right! New rules and ordinances are popping up all over the place as it relates to plastic packaging. So what gives? 

Based on everything we know, it’s probably a good idea to start considering alternatives to plastic packaging ahead of time so that you aren’t totally caught off guard if your country, state, county, or town decides to place restrictions on this material. Luckily, we are here to help with this guide on everything you need to know about plastic packaging alternatives so that you can know your options and be proactive with your packaging choices. 

What Is Plastic Packaging Used For?

Several different types of plastic tend to be used for different types of packaging. In order to get a good understanding of plastic packaging and its uses, let’s break down the different types of plastic typically used in packaging:

  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): This type of plastic is typically used for soda and water bottles.
  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): This type of plastic is typically used for milk bottles, bleach bottles, and shampoo bottles.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): This type of plastic is typically used for pipes, automotive parts, and fittings. 
  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE): This type of plastic is typically used for trash bags, food product packaging, and plastic bags.
  • Polypropylene (PP): This type of plastic is typically used for butter tubs and frozen dinner trays.
  • Polystyrene (PS): This type of plastic is typically used for egg cartons, takeout boxes, and plastic cutlery. 
  • Unallocated References: This refers to any type of plastic that doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. 

Why Should Plastic Packaging Be Avoided?

Based on the title of this article, you’re probably wondering why we’re even talking about alternatives to plastic packaging in the first place. After all, why should plastic packaging be avoided? 

As it turns out, plastic packaging has created huge environmental consequences and concerns that will only continue to grow unless major adjustments are made. This is because plastic is an extremely popular material all around the world—but, unfortunately, most plastic products are single-use and tend to stick around for long after we use them.

So what’s the big deal about all the plastic sitting around? Since many plastic products are relatively lightweight, it’s easy for them to end up where they aren’t supposed to—the ocean is one of those places. Tons of plastic products end up in the ocean and negatively affect marine life. For example, plastic rings from soda cans can get tangled around sea turtles and end up killing them. 

Other plastic products may look like food to marine life—so they end up ingesting them and often die as a result. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it’s estimated by the Plastic Pollution Coalition that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 at the current rate of consumption. 

Clearly, changes have to be made—but how can we go about this? 

Can Plastic Packaging Be Recycled?

After hearing all of that doom and gloom, you’re probably wondering what can be done to solve our plastic problem. One common-sense solution that the mind automatically goes to is recycling. But can plastic even be recycled

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question as it tends to vary based on your location. In some areas, certain types of plastic can be easily recycled, whereas in other areas, many types of plastic aren’t accepted by the local recycling program. 

Many types of plastics cannot be recycled at all—single-use plastic bags, for example. This is one of the main reasons that many localities are banning or at least charging for these bags to decrease their use. On the other hand, some types of plastics cannot be recycled if they have any food or drink remnants on them—so say goodbye to recycling your plastic food containers if they aren’t totally clean. 

Finally, even when you can successfully recycle plastic, its quality gets downgraded as a result of the process. For example, the same piece of plastic can only be recycled about two or three times before it’s rendered useless. 

Benefits Of Using Environmentally-Friendly Packaging

Thankfully, there are more environmentally-friendly packaging options out there that are better for the environment (and our health) than plastic. Obviously, these seem like two huge benefits right off the bat—but there’s really so much more! Here are some potentially surprising benefits of switching from plastic packaging to environmentally-friendly packaging:

  • Most types of environmentally-friendly packaging are versatile and flexible—allowing you to use them multiple times in many different ways so that you can really get the most bang for your buck.
  • Using environmentally-friendly packaging can help you appeal to fellow eco-friendly consumers—helping you to establish a positive brand image while expanding your customer base at the same time. 
  • Environmentally-friendly packaging is free from toxins and allergens that typically appear in traditional packaging types. These chemical and synthetic materials can cause allergic reactions and possibly even negative long-term health effects. On the other hand, environmentally-friendly packaging is usually non-toxic or made with more natural ingredients that are healthier and safer for human consumption. 

6 Environmentally-Friendly Plastic Packaging Alternatives

Plastic is popular for a reason—it’s cheap, flexible, and lightweight. But did you know that more environmentally-friendly alternatives can be just as appealing? Here are some of the best environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging:

  • Paper: Paper boxes are a great alternative to plastic packaging. Paper is also cheap, lightweight, and flexible—just like plastic while also being reusable, recyclable, and biodegradable. 
  • Cardboard: Cardboard boxes are another great alternative to plastic packaging. Cardboard packaging may feel and look a lot different from plastic, but it’s still lightweight, easy to work with, and cost-effective while also being recyclable and biodegradable in most cases. 
  • Glass: Glass packaging is one of the best eco-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging since glass can be reused an infinite amount of times and still maintain its quality—whereas plastic can only be used at most three times. Yes, glass is heavier than plastic and is also breakable, but it can also give products a high-end feel. 
  • Plant-based plastics: Believe it or not, there are plant-based plastics that look and feel just like synthetic plastic without any of the chemicals or waste of both producing and using plastic. For example, bioplastics can be made from the waste products of the production of corn.
  • Mushroom root: One surprising alternative to plastic packaging is mushroom root. This natural product mimics styrofoam and helps to protect and insulate products during the shipping process. 
  • Organic fabrics: Finally, you can use organic fabrics as an alternative to plastic packaging. This especially rings true when it comes to bags. Instead of using those awful single-use plastic bags that you use for 15 minutes but take hundreds of years to decompose, you can use a reusable bag made out of organic fabric for an eco-friendly, stylish, and practical alternative. 

How To Choose The Right Plastic Packaging Alternative To Meet Your Needs?

Now that you’ve heard the lowdown on why you need to replace your plastic packaging with more eco-friendly alternatives, you’re probably wondering which one of these options would work best for you. And while there’s no easy answer to that question, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Thankfully, there are packaging experts at BoxGenie who know all the ins and outs of packaging and can help you come up with new solutions for your unique brand and specific products. 

For example, BoxGenie offers custom packages made out of corrugated cardboard that’s highly recyclable. Their website makes it easy to explore different packaging options as well as create your own brand-specific packaging design. However, if designing isn’t your forte, they also have design templates to help you get started. 

At the end of the day, BoxGenie is here to listen to your needs and challenges in order to come up with sustainable, practical, and effective packaging solutions that will make you wonder why you were even using plastic in the first place!

Conclusion

As you can see, there are solid alternatives to plastic packaging that are environmentally-friendly, healthy, and affordable! So not only will you feel good about doing your part to help keep our Earth green and beautiful, your customers will appreciate it as well. For more information on eco-friendly packaging products, be sure to check out the recyclable packaging options offered by BoxGenie

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.wrap.org.uk/collections-and-reprocessing/dry-materials/plastics/guidance/types-plastic-packaging
  2. https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2018/04/04/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-plastic-and-recycling/
  3. https://www.smallbusinessbonfire.com/eco-friendly-packaging/

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