Biodegradable Packaging Alternatives
Biodegradable packaging is in higher demand than ever before. Both consumers and manufacturers are increasingly eco conscious, having sensitivity to environmental issues in general, and a desire for sustainable packaging solutions in particular. As a longstanding member of the green business community, Heritage Pioneer welcomes this development and we continue to seek out and develop product lines that can be disposed of, recycled, or reused – ideally without going into a landfill at the final stage of the product’s life cycle.
Currently, we have no single, standard definition of biodegradability that has been adopted for general use for industrial purposes in the U.S. Most people consider such a product to be one that will break down into organic elements – water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter – through natural exposure to the elements. In the packaging world, many associate such products with materials made from natural, renewable sources, such as corrugated boxes, especially ones with high recycled content. This definition is not complete, however, because certain plastic packaging materials fit into the category as well. PLA, or polylactic acid, is a plastic formulation made primarily from cornstarch in the U.S. and sugar cane in many other parts of the world. In general, environmentally friendly packaging materials can serve as suitable replacements for traditional items that are difficult or impossible to recycle.
Examples of Biodegradable Packaging
As mentioned above, consumers and industrial firms often focus on corrugated shipping containers and other corrugated items, and with good reason. Corrugated linerboard is by nature extremely bulky, making it a high volume material whenever it is put into a land fill. Although use of corrugated is already widespread, it should be considered as an alternative to plastic bins and shipping totes, which are used in high volume for both shipping and storage. A product that has been around for many years but has enjoyed growing popularity recently is corrugated shipping pallets, which degrade at a much faster rate than pallets constructed of wood. Corrugated build-up material, several layers of corrugated linerboard laminated together to form blocks cut into customized shapes, provide cushioning and blocking and bracing, and can easily replace polystyrene of high density polyethylene plastic molded parts.
Inner packing materials in general receive a great deal of attention in the biodegradable packaging arena. These products are used for void fill, cushioning, surface protection, and interleaving. Many inner packaging materials that remain widely used today are extremely poor from a biodegradable packaging point of view. Polystyrene loose fill, bubble and flexible foam packaging, and inflatable bags, while having many cost and performance advantages, have a notorious reputation among the environmentally active community. Firms have many alternatives, however. Corn starch and paper based loose fill items have become much more widely available. Multi layer paper products are effective replacements for bubble and foam protective materials. Eco friendly loose fill and paper items can be dispensed through a variety of on-demand systems designed for low and high volume shipping operations. Link back to our Biodegradable Packaging page, our packaging solutions page or back to the top of this biodegradable packaging article.