Over more recent years, the urgency for us all to do our bit for the environment is becoming more and more apparent. With the amount of single use plastic used causing endless problems when it comes to our wildlife and landfill sites, alternatives have got to be found to reduce our environmental impact before it is too late.
From small switches such as brands swapping from plastic carrier bags to custom paper bags to bigger commitments such as new machinery in factory environments, everyone can play their part. As we continue to develop as a nation, the technological advancements have made sustainable packaging easier than ever before.
More environmentally friendly plastic alternatives
To tackle the huge plastic issue we are facing, companies have worked to produce alternatives which are less harmful to our environment. For many business, plastic is an essential and cutting it out completely is impossible, so newer materials which offer the same properties are a huge step in the right direction. Recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials have been made more accessible, ideal for uses such as carrier bags and food packaging which have a short lifespan.
For certain industries, scrapping the need for plastic all together has become possible. For example, a new solution has become available for fresh fruit and vegetables, covering each item in a layer of milk protein which is edible and biodegradable but keeps produce fresher for longer, increasing its shelf life and offering a layer of protection.
Another way to reduce or eliminate the need for plastic altogether is refill options. Many household brands have released refill packs which can be brought in bulk or in recyclable pouches which can be transferred into existing plastic bottles instead of buying a new one. Taking this one step further, refill stores are popping up across the county where customers can stock up on store cupboard foods, toiletries and cleaning products using their own containers.
Increased convenience when it comes to recycling
Nowadays, the majority of households have access to recycling facilities within their home which is collected by the council. By being able separate recyclable materials from general waste, each of us are able to minimise the amount of packaging that makes its way to landfill sites and actively make more sustainable choices, building up awareness of our individual impact.
As well as this, businesses are looking into ways to make their packaging more recyclable. Packaging for items such as juice cartons, crisp packets and cosmetics are naturally more difficult as they require an internal layer of film or wax to keep the contents fresh. Although many of these packages are technically recyclable, the different elements would need to be separated which discourages many consumers. Any tedious processes are more likely to be overlooked since it would be easier to simply use the general waste instead of taking packaging apart. Films have been developed by researchers which are being incorporated into many of our household items, blocking out liquids and vapours but having fully recyclable properties to make things a whole lot easier.