New Plastic Alternatives and Recyclable Options

Rows of bottled water are on a conveyer belt

It’s everywhere…covering the shelves you stroll by at the grocery store, arriving in boxes on your doorstep for the holidays, and being assembled as we speak to be sent to a retailer near you. What is it? Packaging, packaging, and more packaging. 

Unfortunately, most of it is comprised of excessive materials, unnecessary plastics, and wasteful filler that can clog landfills and end up in places it shouldn’t. But, while 2019 may be coming to an end, we’re glad to see that sustainable packaging and greener alternatives to everyday containers are ramping up. From a plastic-like material made from fish skin and algae, to round pizza boxes that save room, we’ve seen some amazing innovations in the packaging industry this year. 

At Pioneer Packaging, we’re extremely passionate about sustainability initiatives such as reducing waste, re-using and recycling materials, and lowering energy consumption. We believe these are the fundamental responsibilities of everyone, and knowing that our industry is on the right track makes us excited for what’s to come! So, take a look back at some of the coolest, most sustainable packaging solutions, ideas, and tips that were introduced over the past 12 months. Who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired?

 

Plastic Alternatives

Arguably one of the most important aspects of packaging to see some innovation this year was, of course, plastic! From entire boxes to the windows on food containers, plastic is prevalent in almost everything we purchase, and it’s time it got an upgrade. According to Packaging Digest, options such as paperboard packaging, biomaterials, or even making your own packaging are great ways to swap out the old and bring in the new. 

Paperboard packaging is biodegradable, can be ethically sourced, and can also be used in varying designs and thicknesses depending on what your business needs it for. The coolest part? It takes less time to degrade than any traditional plastic that exists. 

Biomaterials like cornstarch, tapioca, mushrooms, seaweed, or polylactic acid (made from sugarcane) are also viable options when it comes to packaging. Because they are plant and food-based materials, they break down faster and leave behind less waste. While cost of PLA and shelf life of biomaterials can be factors, it’s still a wonderful alternative to research! 

We’ve luckily already seen awesome biomaterial solutions utilized this year thanks to New York-based biotech startup, Ecovative, with a material called mycelium. According to an article by CNN, Ecovative believes mycelium (what grows beneath the ground under mushrooms), is the ideal alternative to the excessive styrofoam we see in packages. With a short time and minimal resources required to create it, it’s sure to be a game changer.

We also saw plastic-like materials made from fish skin and algae become a reality this year. In a piece by Fast Company, Lucy Hughes, a recent graduate from the University of Sussex, England, , revealed a prototype that looks just like conventional plastic, but is far safer and much more sustainable. It can be used to replace oil-based plastic, like bags and box windows. The material, called MarinaTex, won 2019’s James Dyson Award and we’re thrilled to know that impressive alternative packaging solutions are out there.

 

Recyclable Options

Though there are countless green packaging options on the market already, and new ones emerging every single day, it can be hard to rid our world of traditional plastic as much as we’d like to. Recyclable options coming available can make all the difference in combating plastic pollution. Refreshingly enough, we’ve seen a large increase in recyclable options cropping up in even the largest companies and people are beginning to take notice.

 

Beverage Conglomerates Collaborate

In another article from Packaging Digest, we learned that Nestlé and Starbucks have joined forces to create a 100% recyclable Starbucks Creamer PET Bottle and shrink-sleeve label. While we’re just happy to see Starbucks creamers finally available in stores so we can satisfy our craving at home, we’re even more excited to know we aren’t harming the environment while doing so. Because of its design, the company says consumers can recycle the bottle with the shrink sleeve still attached and shrink sleeve materials will be captured and recycled within the mechanical recycling process. According to Nicole Camilleri, Nestlé’s Technical Packaging Senior Development Specialist, the creamers were on shelves less than a year after inception. How’s that for fast and functional?

Not only did Nestlé partner with Starbucks this year, but they also joined forces with some superheroes at DC Comics. The company’s “DC Collection” features 4 superheroes adorning 330mL bottles of their Nestlé Pure Life water. In addition to looking cool and inspiring kids, the bottles are 100% recyclable – including the shrink sleeve labels and caps. While we may not get to join the Justice League and save the world, this is just one small way we can personally help protect the planet.

 

Coca-Cola’s Contribution to Packaging

Finally, we definitely couldn’t mention recycled material integration without mentioning Coca-Cola’s incredible 2019 contribution: the world’s first bottle made from recycled ocean plastic waste! Business Insider explained how 84 beach cleanups across Spain, Portugal, and 12 other ports along the Mediterranean Sea were conducted by volunteers and fishermen to collect the materials. The initial release featured 300 bottles produced using 25% recycled marine plastic. According to Coca-Cola, their long-term goal is to have all of their plastic bottles be made from 50% recycled plastics by the year 2030, and that’s a mission we can get behind.

 

Environmentally Friendly Packaging Products

At Pioneer Packaging, we believe implementing sustainability initiatives is just good business, inside and out. With hundreds of sustainable packaging products available, we enable you to make better choices for your packaging needs. 

Even beyond just a list of sustainable products, we also share our expertise about how these products will impact your business in terms of quality, durability, and costs. We can also help you take it one step further by looking at your systems and processes for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle your way to a more sustainable future!

Besides the impact these changes can have on both our global and local environments, brand enhancement, consumer awareness, and minimizing total packaging system costs are just a few of the other benefits of going “green.” By using sustainable packaging products, our clients show not only corporate social responsibility but respect for the environment and the future. Need help getting started with sustainability in your business? Contact Pioneer Packaging today.

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