mardi 10 janvier 2012

6 Myths and Facts about What’s Green Packaging

1. Less packaging or no packaging makes smart eco sense. I get so annoyed when people say leave the packaging at the store or don't use any packaging at all. The truth is that products that we use or consume need packaging to protect, convey, keep sanitary and secure and even educate us about what's inside. Packaging is integral to our modern lives. When someone complains about excess packaging I ask them this simple question. You brushed your teeth today didn't you? I rest my case.

2. Compostable: means you can throw it out in the back yard and it will disintegrate. The truth is this is one of the most misunderstood packaging phrases and the industry doesn't do a good job explaining it either. Consider what happened with the Sun Chips compostable package. Consumers expected one thing and the reality was something else. In most cases compostable applies to a set of controlled conditions in a special facility for the packaging to degrade. The material itself sometimes has unique disposal issues because of limited composting facilities.

3. Packaging is 50%-60 % of the waste stream. I see this number bandied about and it’s untrue. Packaging accounts for around 30%-35%. These companies that claim they sell their products with zero contribution to the waste stream is a misnomer. They may not have the products in the store packaged but they certainly use packaging to get them there undamaged and ready for sale.

4. Recyclability is the only answer. Unfortunately although recycling packaging makes sense, in many cases the infrastructure isn't in place to make it a widespread practice. Consumers have to want to recycle too. In many cases it’s simply too much trouble to save and dispose of in a recycling facility. Another quandary, washing out containers to recycle (you are using energy and water so where's the eco win?)

5. Sustainable packaging will solve all our environmental problems. This is a lofty goal to aspire to; unfortunately the technology isn't quite there yet. Companies have significantly reduced the amount of packaging used. A good example is the "ultra detergents' that offer a concentrated product in a much smaller packaging container, reducing significantly the amount of packaging used an what goes into the waste stream.

6. All plastic packaging is bad. Not true. There are so many new compounds and formulations that have been introduced. Companies are seriously looking at ways to not only reduce the amount of plastic used but alternative methods for disposal and reuse.  I might mention here too that in many cases the eco plastic alternatives use more energy to manufacture and have disposal issues of their own.


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