The world has relied on plastic for decades. After all, it’s proven a useful material for countless products and packaging, but is that about to end? Growing environmental concerns and heightened consumer awareness are key drivers for change in 2022.
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Should You Use Plastic-Free Packaging?
In light of the news that plastic packaging doesn’t reduce food waste, is it time to reconsider plastic packaging altogether? There are compelling arguments on both sides, but it looks like the world is on the verge of scrapping the use of plastic packaging as much as possible.
Here are a few reasons to go plastic-free:
1. Less Pollution
There’s no doubting the impact of plastic packaging on the environment. Nearly 80 tonnes of packaging waste is generated annually, 19.4% of which is plastic, which has led to uncontrollable levels of plastic pollution. It’s a global issue with far-reaching implications, and one of the best ways to tackle the issue as a business or consumer is to avoid plastic packaging altogether.
2. More Recycling
Many forms of plastic packaging aren’t recyclable. Mixed plastic waste often ends up in landfills or, even worse, is exported to other countries, where it creates further environmental issues. Conversely, paper, cardboard and Kraft-based packaging are much more easily recycled. Increasing recycling rates benefit everyone — it uses less energy than producing more raw materials — resulting in reduced landfill waste, emissions and cost to the end-user.
3. Protect Human Health
Research indicates that microplastics are hazardous to human health. When these tiny plastic particles are inadvertently ingested, they can wreak havoc on the body’s systems and are linked with many health concerns. Chemicals used in the production of plastic packaging — known as phthalates — are no different. If you’ve ever heated a plastic takeaway container, you’ve likely been exposed to phthalates. Long-term, repeated exposure could have a serious effect on your health.
4. Improve the Customer Experience
Consumers prefer natural packaging and often associate plastic packaging with tacky, low-quality products. In fact, nearly three-quarters of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, so making the switch will greatly benefit your customers’ experience. The natural aesthetics of paper or cardboard-based packaging are much better to engage with — crucial for eCommerce businesses, whose packaging is the first physical thing their customers come into contact with.
5. Promote Your Business
Whether you’re an online or in-store retailer, opting for plastic-free packaging is a bold statement. By making the switch, you’ll be able to cater your products to an audience of eco-conscious consumers whose values are rooted in protecting the planet. This is a burgeoning market, and with the rising cost of living, consumers are being more selective about how they spend their disposable income. Positioning your business as a sustainable one is a great way to win repeat customers.
6. Taxes on Plastic
Plastic is currently produced at a monumental scale. This has been fuelled by our reliance on plastic for all kinds of products, but taxes are being introduced to offset the environmental damage plastics cause. By increasing the cost of importing and exporting plastics, it’ll be more expensive to buy plastic packaging in bulk if it has less than 30% recycled content, discouraging the use of plastics altogether.
7. Bans on Single-Use Plastics
In recent years, plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers have been banned due to the serious environmental damage they cause. Following this, Scotland has banned more plastics, including plastic cups and cutlery and polystyrene food containers. As a result, many businesses need to rethink their packaging strategies for food and drinks, but the implications of this legislation mean that more forms of plastic will eventually be restricted or banned altogether, forcing us to think differently about the way we use plastics.
8. Alternatives are Readily Available
An eclectic range of plastic-free packaging alternatives is available for a wealth of applications, from food packaging to shipping boxes. With so many eco-friendly options on the market, it’s worth considering stepping away from synthetics in favour of natural-packaging solutions.
Before plastic, we depended on paper and cardboard-based packaging almost exclusively. Now the world has woken up to the devastation plastics are causing, it’s more important than ever to seek sustainable alternatives to give the planet a chance to regenerate.
Author Bio: Adam Middleton is the Marketing Manager for Packaging Supplies Ltd, a carbon-neutral, plastic-free packaging supplier and custom-packaging service, delivering sustainable, plastic-free packaging materials, shipping boxes, and fully-customised packaging.