What is the best way to reduce packaging waste? The answer resembles the old expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In this case, the ounce of prevention is reducing waste at the design stage.
Creating packaging has long been by definition, creating waste. Once a product is in the hands of the consumer, the packaging designed to protect it from transportation or theft no longer has any use, and gets discarded. Today, some of this packaging is recycled, but not as much as you may think. According to 2014 statistics from the EPA (American Environmental Protection Agency), 75% of everything we throw away is recyclable. Unfortunately, only 30% of it (less than half) gets recycled.
The idea of reducing waste at the design stage can therefore be a very powerful tool to help fight pollution and make for a more sustainable economy.
Choice of packaging material
A great place to start is your choice of packaging materials. Paper, and paper board are highly recyclable. According to EPA statistics, have the highest percentage of recovery: 64.7% of these materials get recycled.
Paper labels can also be recycled. Not only that, they can be made from recycled paper. IMS currently carries these types of labels, which are also FSC certified, meaning they were sourced from forests that are administered in a way that respects the environment and its wildlife.
When it comes to plastics, reuse is still very limited: according to a study prepared for the world economic forum, only 14% of all plastics get recycled.
Two of the most recycled plastics are PET, which is used in water, soft-drink and juice bottles and HDPE plastic which is higher density, and used for milk containers and shampoo bottles. Both are widely accepted in recycling programs across the country.
The recycling of containers made with these plastics is also dependant on how easily they can be separated from their labels. For example, a PET plastic bottle stands a better chance of being recycled if it’s label detaches itself cleanly and easily during the separation phase of the recycling process.
We can help!
As a Branding and Identification specialist we take sustainability to heart. IMS can provide shrink sleeve labels designed specifically to ensure proper separation thanks to their low density. We can also provide wash-off labels with water-soluble adhesive, which separates from the container quickly, when submerged in water.
If you are interested in reducing waste at the design stage of your product, we can help! Find out more about our sustainable products. Contact us!