Plastic has us at its mercy. From the leaching of harmful toxins to the degradation of the environment, who knew that a simple thing such as plastic could be a great factor to our planet’s devastation? We’re so addicted to the man-made material that we’re literally having a tough time shaking it out of our system. Our convenience-driven consumer choices means we’re surrounded by it.
However, despite its many misdemeanours, plastic has undoubtedly helped to advance our civilisation; its lightweight, versatile, flexible and durable properties means its used in many industries, from manufacturing, packaging, building, technology, electronics, agriculture, and healthcare.
Plastic was winning – until now
The big problem with plastic is in its single-use usage.
The mass manufacture of plastics began in the 1960s. Production increased so quickly that it has created over eight billion metric tons worth of plastic. Of this, a staggering 91 percent of it isn’t recycled and only end up in landfill, polluting our oceans or natural environment. Common single-use plastic collected at worldwide beach cleanups are
Most of these pieces of trash are packaged in plastic that can’t be recycled. They are thrown out and will be circling our earth for years and years to come until it becomes ‘food’ for wildlife, or its deadly ‘noose’. When plastics aren’t being eaten or killing animal life, the bulk of ocean plastic leaches hormone-like chemicals which poses a threat to the health of all living things, including human beings.
Beating plastic pollution
Scientists say we only have 12 years left to act before the damage we have done to our planet becomes irreversible. However, according to Kate Marvel, a NASA climate scientist, we don’t even have that long. “We don’t have 12 years to prevent climate change — we have no time,” she says. “It’s already here. And even under a business-as-usual scenario, the world isn’t going to end in exactly twelve years.”
Fortunately, the world is increasingly aware of the environmental and health risks associated with disposable plastic, with consumers, organisations, governments and businesses banding together to tackle the problem.
Countries and municipalities such as Peru, Bali and New York City have made headlines recently for banning single-use plastic. San Diego is restricting the use of styrofoam as food and drink containers.
Innovative bottled water company Pathwater is eliminating the plastic waste problem at the source, by becoming the first in the beverage industry to offer BPA-free aluminum water bottles that can be infinitely recycled.
Compostable packaging, a conventional plastic alternative
Forty percent of the plastic produced each year is used for packaging. To reduce the environmental damage it causes and deliver on environmental promises and sustainability goals, corporations must switch to sustainable packaging system.
The Philippines, one of the world’s worst plastic pollution offenders where its people are accustomed to plastic sachets filled with affordable quantities of anything from shampoo to coffee, could improve its environmental record if its businesses swapped to greener packaging. With Filipinos throwing out 164 million plastic sachets a day, the positive impact would be substantial.
Some progressive companies have opted for biodegradable and compostable packaging. The term ‘compostable’ simply means that the material will decompose and disintegrate into natural elements that won’t leave any trace of toxicity in the soil. Thus, compostable packaging contains renewable plant-based materials such as corn starch, wood pulp or even mushrooms.
Here are some globally recognised brands using compostable packaging:
Furniture packaging is often made of conventional plastic. Recognising the importance sustainability, IKEA have begun using biodegradable mycelium fungi-packaging as an alternative to styrofoam sourced from Evocative.
Related Post: How Sustainable Is IKEA, Really?
Hermes will be switching to sustainable plastic-free packaging for its premium range of beauty products in 2020, giving the brand an edge over its competitors. In addition, through leading web-based e-commerce shipping solution ShipStation who has partnered with eco-friendly packaging company noissue, Hermes will also have the option to use compostable mailers, eco-friendly FSC-certified custom tissue and much more.
“ShipStation is a company that has been crucial in helping so many e-commerce businesses achieve their logistics and support goals,” said Josh Bowden, Co-Founder of noissue in a press statement. “That is why we’re so excited about this partnership and the chance to offer ShipStation users access to affordable and sustainable customer packaging solutions We truly appreciate this opportunity to help e-commerce companies build their brands.”
La Petite Ingredients
New Zealand edible dried flower business La Petite Ingredients uses organic growing methods to grow their edible flowers. Once dried, the flowers are then packaged in Better Packaging‘s compostable packing which can be reused before being composted.
With a growing number of companies switching to sustainable alternatives to conventional padded or bubble mailers, recycled bubble wrap, poly bags and courier satchels, there are no excuses for businesses when it comes to eliminating conventional plastic waste. Making the business decision to use biodegradable and compostable packaging may even be key to attracting more customers.
- Biobased Plastics: How Biologically-Based Plastics Can Realistically Replace Petroleum-Based Plastics
- adidas x Parley For The Oceans: Eco-Friendly Runners That Make Ocean Plastic Trendy
- The New 100% Recyclable Packaging Target Is No Use If Our Waste Isn’t Actually Recycled
- Top 10 Items Collected at Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup All Made of Plastic
- World Oceans Day Installation Shows 1,580kg Plastic Waste Dumped in Australia’s Oceans Every Hour
- Au Natural Skinfood: Innovative, Scientifically-Tested Natural Skincare Subscription Service
Title image courtesy noissue.