Let’s talk plastic in packaging…
Recently, plastic has gotten a bad reputation and rightfully so. However, plastic is vital for the packaging industry for many reasons. You may be thinking, “why can’t everyone just use an alternative and stop polluting the ocean with plastics?!” Unfortunately there are just some cases where plastic is a necessity and can’t be replaced by one of the many alternatives such as corrugate, paper, etc.
Plastic is used in many facets of packaging across multiple industries such as food & beverage, health care, cosmetic & personal care, home & garden and consumer goods. Plastic is an essential part of the packaging process. We as consumers rely on plastic for a variety of reasons. Plastic is great for packaging because it keeps products safe, clean and secure. Plastic itself is light weight, durable, versatile and recyclable which makes it perfect for a wide range of packaging needs.
Plastic offers a lot great uses, but there are also some drawbacks as mentioned earlier. Plastic is getting a bad reputation as sustainability becomes more commonplace in the US.
- Even though plastic is recyclable, it doesn’t always make it to the correct receptacle.
- According to huffingtonpost.com,”…a total of about 19 billion pounds of garbage and plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year.”
- Another hot button topic when it comes to plastic and waste is straws.
- Get-green-now.com puts the total daily usage of straws in the USA at, “500 million or enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times).
Due to some of the downsides to plastic in packaging some industry leaders are taking the initiative to become more sustainable.
PepsiCo plans to launch a residential recycling initiative that will not only be advantageous for themselves but their communities as well. According to Packagingnews, “This recycling initiative is part of PepsiCo’s signature sustainability program, “Performance with Purpose”; by 2025, PepsiCo’s goal is to:
- Design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or, biodegradable
- Increase recycled materials in its plastic packaging
- Reduce packaging’s carbon impact
- Work to increase recycling rates.”
Starbucks has laid out plans to ban plastic straws worldwide by 2020. These straws will be replaced by a newly designed lid that is recyclable. Although Starbucks plans to ban the use of plastic straws, they have discussed using compostable plastic or paper straws along-side the new lids. According to Fortune.com, “The company said it is the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a commitment—a decision that will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from its stores.” Starbucks plans to roll this new plan out beginning with Seattle and Vancouver as Seattle has already banned the use of plastic straws as a city.
The one thing that is not up for discussion is the fact that plastic is one of the cornerstones of the packaging industry. No matter which side you are on, everyone can agree that plastic is a very hot topic in this day and age. As the packaging industry continues to grow and evolve we will continue to see more alternatives and advancements that can potentially replace the extensive use of plastic.
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