<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=216539877280951&ev=PageView&noscript=1" /> What Is Recyclable Packaging? - Dymapak

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You don’t have to look far to see or hear the impacts of industry on the environment. Crude oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico or landfills full of avoidable household waste. Not to mention the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, estimated to be 620,000 square miles.

Many consumers see green living and sustainable practices as their moral mandate. Increasingly, consumers have the same expectations of businesses they choose to buy from — and make it a point to seek out eco-friendly companies.

Fortunately, there are many steps companies can take to align with these green philosophies. Recyclable packaging is one way to take the environmentally-friendly pledge and benefit your business at the same time.

Here’s a look at eco-friendly packaging trends and what to expect in the future.


What Are Examples of Environmentally Friendly Packaging?

Consumer expectations and environmental concerns have pushed packaging technologies forward. They look for compostable or sustainable packaging solutions. Consumers seek out brands that have less packaging waste, skip unnecessary tissue paper and bubble wrap, and choose eco-friendly packaging materials for fragile items.

These newer packaging options are eco-friendly and as durable as their traditional counterparts. Materials once considered to be waste are now viable options for packaging.

When consumers think of environmentally-friendly packaging, glass or paper are likely the first materials that come to mind. But there are many types of packaging to choose from to begin enacting green best practices.


Recyclable Packaging

It would be hard to find two materials that better fit this category than glass or metal. Unlike much single-use packaging, these materials have a long life cycle and can be recycled indefinitely and used to create new products. These products also have the highest rate of recycling by small businesses and consumers.

Packaging made of corrugated cardboard boxes, kraft paper, and paper can be recycled one to two times before becoming unusable and plastics can be recycled two to three times.

Falling under this same umbrella are packaging products that are easy to reuse. Highly-durable mono-material polyethylene bags have been adopted by the cannabis industry for a convenient blend of eye-catching packaging design and custom packaging. Store drop-off policies ensure that these packages potentially see many lifetimes of use instead of the landfill.


Biodegradable Packaging

Greener manufacturing processes have led to the creation of bioplastics. These are largely plant-based products commonly made of raw materials like soy, corn, and cellulose.

Companies have even developed packaging made from the waste from sugarcane, cassava, and other tropical crops. These materials are designed to degrade under specific conditions in industrial facilities to cause less harm to the soil and surrounding ecosystems.

Packing peanuts used to prevent jostling and damage during transport, are traditionally made from Styrofoam™. Those materials are now out of favor and are typically replaced with biodegradable cornstarch-based alternatives.

In the world of cannabis, hemp packaging is highly durable and sustainable and has been reported to take 3-6 months to biodegrade under ideal conditions.


Is There a Difference Between Recyclable and Biodegradable Packaging?

Terms around green practices can be confusing for producers and consumers alike. The liberal use of this jargon can lead to points of contention. Let’s take a dive into two primary umbrellas of environmentally-friendly packaging.

For a product to be considered recyclable, it must have the ability to be reused and repurposed. Vegetables or beverages canned with aluminum or other metals are a great choice because of their infinite recyclability.

Biodegradable packaging, on the other hand, goes into landfills and is not recyclable. For packaging to be considered biodegradable, it must be able to break down over time. Bacteria and fungi consume biodegradable materials leaving behind water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter.

An increasingly eco-conscious and savvy customer base will note the difference between biodegradable and sustainable products. For packaging to be considered sustainable, it must be able to break down in 12 months.


How Does Recyclable Packaging Benefit the Environment?

The majority of the packaging that we encounter in our daily lives is made from virgin materials. Everything from shipping boxes to coffee cups to bubble wrap is on their first time through the production cycle.

A transition to recycled materials will serve to reduce carbon footprint and usage of fossil fuels, combat deforestation, and optimize energy output.

Recycling products keeps them from ending up in landfills or the ocean. Many recyclable materials get reused and repurposed. Think mason jars which consumers re-purpose for drinking, pickling, and even as home decor in the form of vases or pencil holders. This too reduces demand for new packaging that quickly ends up in the landfill.


How Does Recyclable Packaging Benefit a Business?

Committing to sustainability isn’t just good for the planet – it’s good for business, too. Companies stand to benefit from recyclable packaging in many ways. Here’s how:


Consumer Perception

In a shifting market with highly discerning consumers, it is important for companies to build trust and rapport through transparency. A March 2021 study by GreenPrint found that 75% of millennials will put their money where their mouth is to support sustainable business practices.

Concerned eco-conscious consumers are suspicious of corporate deception and are on the lookout for green-washing; the act of misleading or misrepresenting an environmentally responsible public image.

More than ever consumers want to know they are working with companies that are doing the right thing. Companies can use third-party verification to foster this trust with their customers. Clear concise communication on packaging can demonstrate a company’s commitment. This trust can foster brand loyalty and long-term relationships with consumers.

Reduced Carbon Footprint

Making the switch to recycled materials can reduce a company’s carbon footprint. Packaging can be made thinner with increasingly durable bioplastics, reducing the materials needed to produce a package. Less packaging equals less weight equals less transportation equals less fossil fuel consumption across the supply chain.

Recycled materials also require less processing to manufacture and are less environmentally harmful. Paper in its second life as packaging requires significantly less energy than harvesting, transporting, and processing virgin materials from forests (and cuts emissions in the process).


Brand Positioning

As climate change concerns reach a fever pitch among several demographics, companies can position themselves as leaders for positive change.

Early adoption and establishment of green practices from the inside can affect external change in the greater industry and create a competitive advantage.


Reduced Costs

Producing recyclable packaging can also help companies reduce costs across the scope of their business.

Recycled materials may be less expensive to procure than virgin materials. Going the recycled route could make up the lost time and production costs from sourcing and producing packaging from virgin materials.

With rapid inflation in 2022, transportation costs are crushing producers and consumers alike. Air pillows are made of a thin layer of recycled plastic and filled with air. They provide a great opportunity to cut costs as they weigh virtually nothing contrasted with cardboard or other heavier packaging materials, yet still cushion fragile items.


How Are Industries Shifting to Recyclable Packaging?

What more evidence do we need that recyclable packaging is the future than the moves being made at Amazon? They have set goals to eliminate plastic mailers for paper ones by the end of 2022 to reduce waste and environmental impact. They are also early adopters of air pillows.

Salad clamshells and hot food packaging containers at some restaurants are made from bioplastics and recyclable materials in lieu of traditional materials.

Hemp provides an excellent sustainable option for packaging within the cannabis industry as do recyclable pouches. Partnerships to reclaim ocean plastics increase the sustainability of these highly durable products.

With safety being priority number one, the medical industry is lagging in this shift. In 2020, pharmaceutical manufacturer Romaco launched a 70% recyclable single-dose packaging. They reported lowering packaging costs by 60% compared to traditional blister packs.


The Bottom Line

There is no perfect solution to the problem of excess waste, but there are many paths companies can take to become more eco-friendly in their packaging.

Even considering imperfect options, small steps can help better the world and protect the environment. Replacing virgin materials with post-consumer resin (PCR) and eliminating traditional multilayer plastics with recyclable monomaterials are great places to start. Of course, that’s not to forget the shelf space-savers of recyclable pouches in custom sizes to meet a variety of needs.

These shifts not only benefit the environment but can have significant cost reductions across a company’s operation to help foster trust and build brand loyalty creating deeper long-term mutually beneficial producer and consumer relationships. These meaningful actions can help establish companies as forward-looking industry leaders.



Sustainability Index Survey | GreenPrint
Romaco Launches Recyclable Strip Packaging | Outsourcing Pharma
Biodegradable Products | Stanford Magazine