Nowadays, people are concerned about the future of our Planet. Thus, eco-friendly trends are welcome in any sphere of life, including goods packaging. The industry of covering goods is not very eco-friendly since harmful materials are used in the manufacturing of most types of wrapping. While covers serve to attract consumers’ attention, today’s consumers not only prefer attractive packaging but also pay attention to its sustainability.
However, with the rise of eco trends, another side of the coin called “greenwashing” appeared. Greenwashing is a marketing tool when a company spends a significant amount of money on creating an eco-image but does nothing to really reduce its negative impact on the environment. In simple words, enterprises deceive consumers by pretending to be eco-friendly while producing the same products that contain harmful chemicals that negatively influence the environment. Craft wrapping is an excellent example of greenwashing since the materials used for pouches production are not always recyclable.
How to Distinguish between Truly Green Wrappers from Fake Ones?
Very few consumers know how to distinguish between real and fake green wrapping. Those customers, who do not want to be deceived by marketers, should find a Mobius loop on the packaging. Green, certified wrapping can be marked with the following designations:
- PP (5);
- LDPE (4);
- PET (1).
Keep vigilant by identifying these eco-friendly marks and avoid becoming a target of fake marketing campaigns.
Types of Eco-Friendly Wrapping
Within the industry, they distinguish between the following eco packaging solutions.
This class of products can degrade in the environment under the influence of particular fungi, bacteria, or algae. Biodegradable containers and wrappers can be made from petroleum or organic materials – biopolymers. It is also possible to use combined technologies. The rate of degradability depends on a number of factors, such as the type of polymers, the concentration of decomposing materials, temperature, humidity, and others.
Bioplastics can be obtained in two ways: from materials of organic origin, for example, cellulose (from wood and cotton), rubber, grain, or milk, and using biotechnology (this is how vulcanizate, fiber, celluloid, etc. are obtained).
The most common biopolymers are cellulose, microbial polyesters, polyhydroxyalkanoates, polyvinyl alcohol, polycaprolactone, polylactic acid, polyethylene, and polyurethanes.
Recently, biodegradable options have been popular, but it turns out that such materials also harm nature. They do not decompose by 100%; degraded chemical substances can be toxic. When falling into water and ground, chemicals can poison natural resources. As a result, this can harm the health of all living beings, including humans.
This is how packaging industry experts and manufacturers realized that biodegradable polymers are not a panacea for sustainability. They are just as dangerous as multilayer composite materials. So the infrastructure changed course towards recyclable products.
Recyclable Wrappers and Containers
Waste is items that have lost their properties. Recycling is the tech process based on the secondary usage of waste. The technology implies the manufacture of new products from waste.
Note that the key condition of the recyclable technology is the use of mono structures. Only mono-material will be recycled. Flexographic printing companies, like this, produce such packages for products. Nowadays, 2-3-5 layer combined containers are the most demanded. For example, a doy-pack for mayonnaise is made of 2 layers of PET film + Polyethylene.
It is convenient to weld such a two-layer film into a bag since it holds its color and shape well. But it is impossible to reuse such material. If melted, polyethylene will burn, but PET will not. Thus, such packages are unsuitable for recycling. Just like Tetra Pak, a multi-layer bag with an aluminum layer is also impossible to recycle.
Thus, packages consisting of only one type of plastic (only polypropylene PP or only polyethylene PE) began to actively gain popularity. Such packaging is easy to recycle and return as “crude” to manufacture new products.
The next step in eco-design is oriented towards reuse, both direct and indirect. It can be a product container that can be reused for other purposes or a durable container that buyers can use many times. This solution allows for decreasing the number of consumed bags resulting in the reduction of manufacturing needs.
Myths about Eco-Friendly Containers and Wrappers
All Types of Plastic are Harmful to the Environment
There is a common belief that all sorts of plastic are harmful. Actually, plastic waste is perfectly recycled to reduce environmental pollution. A significant part of household waste that ends up in landfills is of plastic nature. Proper disposal of plastic waste allows getting a secondary material exposed to recyclable use for the manufacture of various types of products.
There are No Other Green Materials Except Paper and Craft
Recycled cellulose/paper is used to produce craft covers. Yet, other materials can also be used during recycling processes. Many types of plastic are reused and recycled. PP and PE can serve as secondary “crude” for other products and packages.
Modern businesses apply various recyclable packaging solutions trying to make production more eco-friendly. Green activists offer alternative ways to pack goods and products to decrease the number of garbage and industrial waste.