The conservative packaging world and its sustainable future

The origin of packaging

Packaging has been around for quite some time, because packaging exists for a reason. The primary goal of packaging is to protect the packaged product. It was only much later that the approaches of marketing and product placement were added.  

But let's remember that packaging is the protection for the product, and that's what you should pay attention to. In recent decades, an important development has taken place in the world of packaging, namely the issue of sustainability.  

Sustainability in the packaging industry

Sustainability is on everyone's lips. There is a flood of information about supposedly sustainable packaging, new developments and much more. But beware! There are many good, but then again also very questionable, new developments in this regard. Some of these new developments clearly limit the protection of the packaged goods. And that is actually the purpose of packaging. So why is something like this used? A very good question

that is not so easy to answer.

A lot of packaging on the market is falsely declared as sustainable. But here you have to look closely. Just because a package looks "organic" or "natural" does not mean that it is ecologically sustainable. Often this is not easy to recognise and the packaging world still has to work diligently on this.  

Recyclability for packaging

image of a variety of trash cans

Oh, and then there is the issue of recyclability. This is where it gets exciting. Because when you talk about sustainable packaging, the really exciting aspect is the recyclability of packaging. And this is due to the way we deal with packaging after it has been used.  

Packaging usually ends up in our yellow bag and then at the recycling centre, with the aim of being able to sort the disposed packaging in such a way that pure material streams are produced again. These pure material streams could then, theoretically, be recycled and made into new packaging. This would close the so-called material cycle and save important resources. The technical term used here is circular economy. Unfortunately, however, this closed cycle does not yet work completely in reality, because there are certain obstructive aspects that significantly influence the separation of the packaging and the associated sorting quality. And it is the sorting quality that determines whether new products can be made from it or whether the collected material merely ends up in thermal recycling.

Design 4 Reduce

But there are certain guidelines in the field of packaging design that support this sorting quality. These bear the name Design for Recycling, or D4R for short. The principle can be described with 3 terms. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These principles serve to enable the sorting machines in the recycling plant to better separate the packaging into its different materials.

First and foremost is the topic of Reduce. You can reduce the packaging material used, but reduction also concerns the consumer. The fewer resources are used, the better.

Under the term Reuse, you can add up all the packaging that can be used several times. With the same or a new purpose. This includes, for example, the deposit system for our PET drinks bottles. But also when the jam jar serves as a pen holder after the contents have been used up. Here, too, resources are saved because the packaging is not thrown away after use, at least not directly.

Now we come to the last principle, namely recycling. It is primarily the packaging developers who have a great influence on this point. Packaging can be constructed and designed in different ways. As a reminder, recycling is all about good separability of materials. In order to achieve this goal, the packaging is best made of exactly one material. Such packaging can be clearly identified by the sorting machines and is very likely to end up in the right material stream. Such packaging is often referred to as monolayer, or just monomaterial packaging.

If this cannot be implemented due to product requirements, there are other or additional factors. For one thing, care can be taken not to use dark colours. White, or even better, transparent packaging materials lead to the best material quality in recycling. In addition, care should be taken in the construction of the packaging to ensure that the individual packaging components can be separated easily and without problems. Here is a brief example. A shampoo bottle consists of a bottle and a cap. The bottle is usually made of polyethylene. The cap is made of polypropylene. For the best recycling result, these two components should be thrown separately into the yellow bag.

Packsquare helps you with sustainable packaging

Of these rules, there are many more to consider.  

We at Packsquare, can help you with advice on these issues. A very good way to become a bit more sustainable, for example, is to use our mono bags made of polyethylene. These protect the product optimally and save resources thanks to their low material usage. The most important thing, however, is that they really are 100% recyclable. This is also confirmed by an independent institute for sustainability. Convince yourself now and take a look at our products here, or simply write to us directly. We look forward to getting to know you and your company better.

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