Complicated Answers in Packaging Sustainability

December 08, 2015

Leyla Acaroglu thinks a lot about how consumers and manufacturers alike can make better decisions for the environment. After all, it’s a team effort! Her TED talk, ‘Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore’ addresses some of the core challenges of creating a more sustainable world.

Her opening example is one we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives. Paper or plastic? And which is better for the environment? The answer is the dreaded “It’s complicated.”

Part of the solution lies in what consumers do with the packaging after they’ve completed their purchase. Plastic bags, and plastic in general, can be great because it is light, usually recyclable and, as we’ve Buzzed about before, can help preserve items longer and reducing food waste. On the other hand, there are serious issues with the use of plastic bags when they are not disposed of properly – which has led some communities and states to ban their use.

Paper, particularly corrugated cardboard, is easily recyclable and offers it’s own benefits – especially as new blends are always increasing strength while reducing weight. It, too, comes with its own challenges to packaging sustainability.

The battle for more sustainable packaging solutions often comes down to a couple key questions:

  • What materials go into products?
  • What consumers do with them after purchase?
  • How efficiently and effectively can packaging be recycled and put back to work?
  • How much will it cost and who absorbs it, consumers or manufacturers?

These questions are difficult to answer, and there are many different ways you can address the sustainability challenge. What is clear is that the demand for environmentally-friendly packaging will become a bigger part of the industry, and not smaller. The good news is we are here to help you find solutions that work.

As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” But Ernest Packaging Solutions can help make it easier and give you a sustainable packaging design. We have been part of the sustainability solution for over 65 years!  Contact us today to learn more about sustainability options and emerging technology in the packaging industry that may be just what you need!