Reducing the impact of human activity is increasingly becoming more critical. Businesses large and small in the packaging industry are working to develop alternative production methods that are more eco-conscious. You’ve probably seen packaging and labels with words like biodegradable, compostable, eco-friendly, and sustainable, but what does that mean?
Biodegradable means that a material can break down into natural elements, CO2, and water vapor over a period of time when introduced to organisms like bacteria, fungi, and algae. Nearly every material can be considered biodegradable, though it might take up to thousands of years for some materials like plastic to break down.
Generally, products from natural minerals, plants, and animals are considered biodegradable, including cardboard boxes, paper, rope, and cotton. When it comes to the packaging industry, the definition of biodegradable is a little different. For packaging products, material needs to completely break down into natural elements shortly after disposal, typically within a year or less.
A compostable material refers to a form of biodegradability that transforms materials into organic waste that enriches the soil, like food scraps, fallen leaves, and grass clippings. The main difference between compostable and biodegradable products is that compostable items provide nutrients back to the earth. Composting something also requires the right level of heat, water, and oxygen to support microorganisms that will break down the material.
Eco-friendly is defined as anything not harmful to the environment. Eco-friendly products are designed to interfere as little as possible with the environment. The materials and methods used to manufacture the product generally have a lower impact on the planet. The product might be more easily biodegradable or need less energy to create when compared to like products.
Being sustainable means being able to maintain a process without the depletion of natural resources. Companies that want to improve their sustainability need to analyze the entire lifecycle of their product. Improving sustainability practices can include:
- Ensuring careful use of natural resources.
- Improving working conditions.
- Educating customers on how to maintain and dispose of their purchased products.
improving Eco-conscious practices in packaging
Ultimately, engaging in practices that save resources and energy is good for the planet and your bottom line. There are many ways to reduce the footprint of a business. Rethinking how products are packaged and the lifecycle of disposable packaging products can reduce waste and cost.
Using more recyclable materials in the packaging process is an achievable first step in improving sustainability practices. All aspects of the packaging need to be considered, including a fully recyclable, non-toxic glue. If the glue cannot be recycled, the packaging can’t be either. For businesses looking to improve their sustainability, there are environmentally friendly glues like liquid glues and gelatin-based glues that come from natural sources and break down. These types of glues provide proper adhesions, are cost-effective, and reduce waste. If you have questions about eco-conscious glue application or options, contact our experts today.