arts & sciences

Sustainable packaging solutions that every business can afford

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Many businesses are looking to implement sustainable packaging solutions for various reasons. Unlike popular beliefs, they are affordable and good for the environment. Sustainable packaging can be divided into three types, which are compostable, reusable and recyclable packaging.

Compostable packaging is made from plant-based materials, which can be decomposed naturally in the soil leading to zero waste. Recyclable packaging includes cardboard boxes, molded pulp packages like egg cartons and cup holders and paper used to protect objects in the packages. Reusable packaging is containers that are sent back to the manufacturer for recurrent use. In this article, we will discuss different affordable and sustainable packaging options.

boxed water (©Boxed Water)
boxed water (©Boxed Water)

Mushroom packaging

This organic packaging is unique and affordable and can be used to pack small items. It is made by growing mushroom mycelium in a mold. The mushroom roots combine the agricultural waste material and create a layer, which is baked to deactivate its growth. This combined waste material is molded into many shapes and dried to form a protective soft layer. This protective layer is used as molded pulp to protect fragile objects. Mushroom packaging can be used instead of undegradable polystyrene packages. The leftover packages can be rapidly decomposed in your compost pile at home, making it one of the most popular sustainable packaging solutions.

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Bio-based plastics

Bioplastics have grown in popularity in recent years as it is commonly used in food packages, straws, utensils and shopping bags. It is a great option if you consider switching to custom flexible packaging, which saves space and excess materials used in packaging creating a more sustainable solution. Bioplastics are made from organic materials like cornstarch, sugarcane, cassava to replace plastic polymers like polypropylene and polystyrene. Cornstarch comes from maize and corn plants, and it is used to create various types of packages. It is widely used because it resembles the texture of plastic, which can be used to replace plastic bags, bottles, molds, and void fill. It is an excellent alternative to petroleum-based plastics.

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Reusable fabrics

Plastic bags are widely used in different stores to pack groceries, clothes, office supplies, or food packages, among others. They can be replaced with reusable fabric bags made from organic fabrics. They are manufactured using recycled materials like cotton or organic materials like hemp, palm leaves, and tapioca, among others. People can reuse these bags at home or when shopping instead of using new bags from stores. Even if they end up throwing them away, it takes about 3 months for them to decompose compared to plastic bags that can take thousands of years. Some people even use these fabric bags in their arts and crafts projects.

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Biodegradable void fill

Void fill is the materials used to protect items in boxes or packages like packing peanuts, bubble wrap and air pillows. Each of these products is manufactured using eco-friendly materials. Bubble wrap is replaced with corrugated cardboard sheets made from recycled cardboard boxes. Instead of disposing of used cardboard packages, they are treated by making small cuts, which mimics the effect of bubble wrap to safely pack any item.

Packing peanuts are usually made from non-biodegradable plastic materials like polystyrene. A sustainable alternative for packing peanuts is made from plant-based materials like cornstarch and grain sorghum. They are compostable and can easily dissolve in water, making them a good sustainable option. Inflatable air pillows are another great alternative to plastic bubble wrap. They are made from recyclable materials and sometimes fabric that can be reused, which are then filled with air creating a cushion-like protective layer for packaged items.

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Recycled plastics and paper

Some packaging cannot be replaced with biodegradable materials. Companies that transport large shipments need to use robust materials for packaging containers. To decrease the environmental impact, the biodegradable void fill can be used inside plastic containers, which can still be recycled and reused. Many plastic products are made from recycled plastic to cut back on plastic waste. Cardboard boxes and paper can also be recycled properly. They are made from organic materials, but they won’t just biodegrade in nature. The best solution is to recycle them for recurrent use by sourcing cardboard and paper products after being used by customers or in their original manufacturing process.

Many cities and countries around the world are starting to cut back on their plastic use. Many manufacturers are starting to find more sustainable packaging alternatives. Most people mistakenly believe that all eco-friendly packages are expensive, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Any business whether big or small can use some of the above solutions to replace non-biodegradable products to lessen their harmful impacts on the environment without breaking the bank.

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