One of the biggest challenges facing our world right now is how pervasive plastics are. Used for everything from packaging to single-use items like cutlery, this material has been around since World War II and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon as companies come up with new ways to use plastic in their products every day.
What can we do about all these plastics? Companies and consumers both need creative solutions or else there can be irreversible damage to the environment.
It’s time to start thinking about the alternatives, especially if any future government decides to take a more forceful approach to prevent plastic use.
Current favourable alternatives to plastic packaging
The fortunate thing in recent years is that knowledge about the dangers of plastic has become much more abundant, making it an issue everyone is aware of.
Because of this, there have been many products that have been created using different materials. Paper materials are one of these, but we’ll touch on that later in the article.
1. Recycled/eco-friendly plastics
10 years ago, it would have been hard to believe that so many countries around the world are finally seeing increased plastic recycling rates.
It was only a few years ago when people thought recycled packaging would never take off and now it is not an uncommon sight in stores everywhere.
Using recycled plastic products has so many positive benefits and with there being an abundance of plastic in the world, it is the most straightforward method to improving our environment.
By using recycled plastic, you can expect oceans to be significantly cleaner since there would be fewer landfill sites, which is important for the ecosystem so that wildlife can once again thrive.
Furthermore, technology is making progress in the manufacturing industry, but it can’t go far enough to keep up with the demand for plastics and other materials.
If we use recycling more often, not only will our energy bills shrink; so too will greenhouse gases!
Bioplastics are better for the environment than oil-based plastics, as they come from organic or plant sources and can be recycled, composted if necessary, or biodegraded depending on what type of plastic it is.
This means that instead of producing more non-biodegradable waste like traditional plastics do when thrown away in a landfill (which causes pollution), these new types will break down into natural materials without harming our planet any further.
Bioplastics have been around since the 1980s but only recently has their popularity grown due to environmental concerns such as climate change and global warming because this material is made with renewable resources.
They can be moulded into any shape to replace traditional thermoplastics in manufacturing processes; they’re often lighter in weight too so that benefits transport costs.
In some cases these biodegradable bio substitutes may even outshine their non-biological counterparts: for example, one material called polylactic acid is stronger than steel!
3. Mushroom Packaging
An environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam, mushroom packaging is made of 100% renewable and biodegradable materials.
Not only does this provide a new use for agricultural waste, but it also helps bring value back to the earth by recycling items that are more difficult to dispose of in nature!
Mushroom packaging provides an excellent alternative solution when considering how best to keep our planet clean while still being able to find uses for other parts of plants like their roots or leaves.
The material that mushroom packaging has been designed with can be recycled directly in and by nature which means there will always be infinite possibilities at hand whenever we need them!
Mushroom packaging is biodegradable and can be used as compost in home gardens.
This helps to reduce the burden on landfills, ensures that natural resources are not wasted from unnecessary plastics use, and reduces pollution by recycling waste products into something useful.
It also has low energy consumption during manufacturing compared to traditional packaging, making it cost-effective.
4. Cornstarch Packaging
Cornstarch packaging is made from fermented sugars, usually obtained through the use of corn starch as a resource for its construction.
The biodegradable quality proves to be an appropriate solution to environmental concern and this should come into consideration when choosing what materials are right for your needs.
The plastic produced from this material has many different uses such as food packaging or insulation which makes them sustainable in their use.
Corn-based plastics are an inexpensive option because they can be made from a readily available source that also helps preserve our planet’s resources by keeping items like plants out of landfills.
In contrast to cornstarch packaging, synthetic polymer fabrics are made from petroleum-based plastics that can be costly if the price of oil fluctuates.
Switching to paper-based products
Paper is becoming the go-to material for many businesses, as it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than plastic.
It poses virtually no threat to people or animals if any were inadvertently spilt in a drinking water supply.
This is unlike plastics which can take centuries before degrading into smaller pieces that pose an even bigger risk of finding their way back out into our food sources!
One major benefit of paper packaging is its low cost when compared to similar items sold by competitors like plastic bags.
Cardboard boxes are the most common form of paper packaging as they are lightweight, durable, and easy to handle. They can be recycled for future use or reused as storage containers.
This also goes for other cardboard packaging products like postal tubes. This reusability makes paper an incredibly viable alternative among the various other benefits previously mentioned.
One more benefit of paper packaging that doesn’t concern the environment is that it is very easy to brand on. This can indirectly benefit the environment as it should give businesses an incentive to use more paper-based packaging.
Reusing plastic products
Now that we’ve discussed the many viable alternatives to plastic products, the main issue remaining is the existing plastic that is already within our communities.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to help benefit the environment is to make use of plastic products that we would otherwise dispose of easily.
There are so many products that are bought with plastic containers, so why aren’t we repurposing these containers to make them useful for something else, all the while helping save the environment?
Unfortunately, people do not tend to think of reusing plastic items despite their versatility, particularly as storage devices.
It’s not just the current plastic products that we need to start reusing. Any of the aforementioned alternatives to plastic should also be reused to the best of their ability.
For example, cardboard tubes and boxes can be reused for long periods provided they are kept away from damp areas.
If we can change our attitudes towards how we utilise packaging then we can make significant steps towards changing the environment. At this point, it is still too convenient for previous products to be discarded and for new ones to take their place.
Because we don’t see the waste beyond when it is taken away from us to a landfill site, we have become comfortable with living a wasteful lifestyle.
If we can just work towards building a new mindset towards eco-friendly and sustainable packaging products, then decreasing pollution and saving the environment shouldn’t be perceived as a fruitless endeavour anymore.