So you want to make more eco-friendly decisions when it comes to food and drinks packaging, but there are so many myths and misconceptions out there. We're here to help! In this blog, we'll explore the truth about eco-packaging - what works best for the environment and what doesn't - to help you make an informed decision for your business. So let's get started myth-busting!
Introduction: Exploring the Myths and Facts of Eco-Packaging
Eco-friendly packaging is becoming increasingly popular as businesses strive to reduce their environmental impact. While eco-friendly materials such as bioplastic plastics and compostable takeaway boxes offer an alternative to traditional plastic, many misconceptions exist about their effects on the planet. Understanding each type of material's various benefits and drawbacks is essential to make an informed decision when selecting eco-friendly food packaging.
Types of Eco-Friendly Food Packaging
Many manufacturers and retailers are actively looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging while still being functional and consumer-friendly. The main types of eco-friendly food packaging include:
1. Reusable cups and containers - These products can be used more than once, such as glass storage containers, lunch boxes, ceramic coffee cups and organic cotton tote bags. This is a great way to reduce waste and saves money compared to single-use packaging.
2. Home Compostable Packaging - These are typically made from materials such as paper and bagasse. Home compostable packaging is packaging that will break down in normal composting conditions.
3. Bioplastic or PLA packaging - Bioplastic is plastic made from plants such as cornstarch. It can also be made from cellulose, seaweed and other fun materials like prawn shells! The products are designed to break down quickly in an industrial composting facility. These are great options if you're looking for more sustainable choices with a lower carbon footprint. However, not all of this packaging is as easy to dispose of. In Hong Kong, we recommend you avoid bioplastics… but we’ll dive into that later. Note that in Hong Kong this type of packaging will be banned, learn more about the Regulation of Disposable Plastic Packaging here.
4. Recycled Plastic Packaging (RPET) - As the name suggests, these products make use of post-consumer recycled plastic which is melted down and reformed into new items like bread bags or deli clamshells. This reduces plastic waste and helps keep our landfills clean!
5. Paper/Cardboard Packaging - Paper-based materials like boxes and wrapping paper have always been popular choices for food packaging due to their low cost and ease of printing designs on them (great for branding!). However, when it comes to paper, we should all be looking for FSC Certified products; this means that the paper is either recycled, or has come from responsibly managed forests, which does not contribute to deforestation. Paper is also home-compostable!
Benefits of Eco-Friendly Food Packaging
Eco-friendly or sustainable packaging uses manufacturing techniques to reduce energy usage and minimise environmental harm. The following are the benefits of using this type of packaging:
- Reduce waste going to landfills
- Lower carbon footprint
- Stops plastic pollution
- Saves virgin resources
Challenges of Eco-Friendly Food Packaging
The rise in demand for eco-friendly materials presents both challenges and opportunities for the industry, and while there are some current solutions to the issue, there is still much to be done.
One challenge in creating sustainable food packaging is ensuring that materials are truly biodegradable and home-compostable so that they break down quickly without causing further damage to the environment. Bioplastics offer a promising alternative solution. However, challenges are faced when it comes to discarding these products. In Hong Kong, bioplastics cannot be commercially recycled like PET, they also cannot be home-composted and require industrial composting facilities, which are not publicly available in Hong Kong. Read more about PLA in our Knowledge Centre here.
Conclusion: Finding the Best Eco-Friendly Food Packaging for the Environment
When it comes to packaging, there are a variety of eco-friendly options available so that environmentally-conscious consumers can make informed decisions about their purchases. Biodegradable and home-compostable packaging materials like bagasse and FSC paper are all viable alternatives to plastic packaging. Reusable containers are also a great way to reduce single-use packaging. Overall, eco-packaging offers an effective solution for reducing plastic waste and industrial pollution. It is evident that carefully selecting the right kinds of materials for food packaging can reduce the environmental impact of waste created during manufacturing processes, distribution networks and consumer disposal practices.
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