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The Importance of Earth Day Within The Packaging Community

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

This month's topic is all about Earth Day. Celebrated yearly on April 22nd, it seemed fitting to support and promote information about the occasion during our blog post this month. Recognized as the largest civic event in the world, Earth Day has become very popular among consumers, businesses, and governments. It is a day that has been held since 1970 and reminds us of the unique environmental challenges that we continue to combat using sustainable technology and environmental education.

Banner image of Earth Day 2021. A beautiful mountainous backdrop and vibrant sloping hills fall behind bright white text.
Earth Day 2021 Restore Our Earth

(Image by Columbia Climate School)

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is "Restore Our Earth", which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. This day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement which was started just over 50 years ago.

The first Earth Day was celebrated after more than 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest against environmental ignorance by the government. The uproar triggered this annual event to inspire us to act towards the protection of the environment and focus on the need for sustainable change.

"Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This is a major topic of conversation for almost every brand small and large in the world today. With so many consumer habits being tailored around sustainable conscious decisions, companies have had to dramatically rethink their long-term growth strategies to support a reduced global carbon-footprint.

The recycling symbol surrounded by paperboard and cardboard products.
Packaging Recyclables

(Image by Packaging Distributors of America)

As with all of our blog posts, we are going to start focussing the conversation towards our industry in particular - Packaging. We've listed the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's (SPC) 8 criteria for packaging to be considered sustainable.

1. Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.

2. Meets market criteria for performance and cost.

3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.

4. Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.

5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.

6. Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.

7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.

8. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.

Meeting these 8 criteria should be a long-term goal for every packaging company in the world. Us included. As the industrial era continues to fade away and with the onset of technological domination, manufacturers have started to update machinery to support these sustainable packaging advancements.

Here are some examples of packaging strategies that have eco-friendly advantages.

1. Recycled Packaging Materials

Recycled packaging is a great way to extend the life of previously used materials. The most commonly reused material is paperboard cardboard, but many companies are now opting for PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) plastics. Although PCR plastic is not the most ideal solution, it dramatically reduces the amount of virgin plastic introduced into the market every day. A common product that has transitioned into 100% PCR plastics is the beer can holder. Take a look out for them the next time you're selecting your favorite IPA!

A 6-pack of beer using 100% PCR plastic holders to support sustainable packaging options.
100% PCR HDPE Beer Can Holder

(Image by PakTech)

2. Plant-Based Packaging

Plant-based packaging options are rapidly making inroads into the world of product packaging. These biological sources can consist of natural matter such as mushrooms, seaweed, corn, and even food waste. Plants are quickly biodegradable so these alternatives have proved to be a popular choice among many companies.

3. Edible Packaging

Similar to plant-based packaging, it uses biological sources but this solution is actually constructed from ready-to-eat ingredients. You might be thinking this is crazy, but you've probably seen it before. Pictured below is a capsule of liquid encased in a waterproof film made of seaweed.

Edible seaweed encase hydrating liquids for marathon runners.
Edible Seaweed Packaging

(Image by Notpla)

4. Plantable Packaging

This is exactly what is sounds like. These are packaging solutions that are biodegradable and have seeds embedded into them. This means consumers can dispose of their products in soil after they've been used. Perfect for April showers bringing May flowers!

5. Compostable and Biodegradable Plastic Alternatives

Compostable packaging is made out of materials that break down in compost. They are chemically formulated from plant-based polymers which react to compost's compound structures. A common example are compostable poly-mailers. These are great alternatives to plastics which break down from anywhere between 90-180 days compared to virgin plastics which can take more than 450 years to degrade!

So, we have outlined what Earth Day is, what sustainable packaging options are available, and now it is time to focus on our carbon footprint as a company. We love using these blogs to express our motives as a business and connect with our audience.

Like almost every other company out there, we aren't perfect. Yes, we source from manufacturers overseas and yes we source plastic bottles. However, we are working to educate our customers on sustainable initiatives to reduce our impacts on the environment. We have just sourced 335,000 100% PCR lids for a company that creates whey protein powders. Using post-consumer recycled plastics means not only have we stopped 335,000 lids being made from virgin plastics, we have also extended the lifetime of previous plastics used in the market.

Another example of our sustainable initiatives is that we have sourced water-resistant labels so that our customer can create a recycling program for their juice company. This means the bottles can be sent back to them, washed, dried, and reused for resale without any damage or defects to the labeling.

Waterproof labels to help recycle and reuse bottle for recycling program.
Waterproof Label

(Image by Online Labels)

Although we manufacture our products overseas, utilizing the global shipping market which is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, our model is actually a lot more sustainable than most of our competitors. The reason being is that we reduce the number of transport methods involved because we deliver the goods from the factory straight to our customers doorstep. This is comparative to other suppliers who ship to their facility and then ship to multiple vendors. We eliminate the process of that additional supply leg which requires more trucking and transport methods.

What about domestic suppliers? Well, they're not much better. The majority of raw materials are sourced overseas and then manufactured in the states. So again, it adds another leg to the supply chain by transporting those raw materials to a domestic factory to then be sold to multiple vendors elsewhere.

In conclusion, sustainability is the future and it is awe inspiring to see the younger generation be so conscious of the effects we have on our planet. Articulating purchasing habits based of each company's carbon footprint has forced companies to really take action and welcome positive change. We are currently making changes to our website which will provide more information on the sustainable solutions that we offer so stay tuned for those updates!

Thanks for reading.

Stay Tuned. Stay Safe.


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