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For sustainability think Southgate

Following a 46 percent growth in e-commerce sales in 2020 compared to the previous year, there’s been a huge surge in packaging waste which the consumer is responsible for disposing. In a recent survey almost 44 percent of consumers said that recyclable or reusable packaging is now one of the most important features in their product choice. Yet only 53.9 percent of packaging is recyclable.

Southgate has a continued focus on product innovation for the sustainability market. Some current e-commerce packaging solutions are more recyclable than others:

Exterior packaging

Corrugated cardboard

Carboard is commonly recyclable and is accepted across all authorities for curbside collection. You’ll need to remove any plastic tape or pouches as this will contaminate the recycling process.

Plastic film and bags

Studies show 88 percent of the UK’s local councils do not accept polythene packaging for curbside pickup. Plastic packaging makes up a large amount of the packaging material from e-commerce companies.

Although a large majority of councils do not offer a curbside recycling service for these materials, local plastic collection points do.

Padded mailers

These can’t be recycled. Whilst many people try to remove the insular padding and recycle the paper and plastic padding separately, the adhesives used to bind these two materials are non-recyclable. As such the materials would contaminate the process.


Standard paper envelopes are recyclable via council curbside collections but remember, if they contain a plastic window you will need to remove this.

Void Fill

Bubble wrap

Whilst bubble wrap is recyclable, it is a more complex process and is not typically available via curbside collections. To discover if your borough facilitates this, visit your local authorities’ website.

Air pillows

These are one of the most popular uses of void fill. Using less plastic material and covering a larger surface area means that it is one of the most sustainable void fill alternatives. Whilst some air pillows are recyclable in design, for example paper pillows, there’s still a large majority that are not widely recyclable. It is suggested to release the air from the pillows before recycling, so a perfect excuse to obnoxiously pop every pillow.

Styrofoam & foam wrap

Styrofoam and foam wrap are comprised of polystyrene: this is recycling category 6 and means t is incredibly hard to recycle. Whilst Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) such as styrofoam is 100 percent recyclable, not many councils accept it.

Whilst the majority of these products need to be sent to landfill in your general waste bin, polystyrene does eventually biodegrade. Unfortunately, the process takes anywhere between 500 and one million years.

Shredded cardboard

Another popular use of void fill is shredded cardboard. This promotes a circular economy, not only through reusing cardboard packaging to help protect products in transit, but it is also fully recyclable for the consumer.


Plastic tape

Standard plastic packaging tape isn’t recyclable. If your packaging has been sealed with plastic tape, ensure you remove this and dispose of it in your general waste. When plastic tape is left on recyclable packaging such as a cardboard boxes, it contaminates the recycling process.

Water activated tape

This is fast becoming the most popular form of carton sealing. Many leading e-commerce companies have opted to use this fully recyclable material in lieu of the standard plastic packaging tape. Not only is this tape paper based and as such universally recyclable, it also provides tamper evidence, superior strength and requires less material use than its plastic equivalents. It also aids easier consumer recycling as there’s no need to remove it from the carboard packaging.

With over 6,000 packaging products available from stock, Southgate offers one of the widest range of packaging equipment and consumables to the packaging professional.

Contact us at +44(0)1553 612146 or visit our website: https://southgate.eu.com

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