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Friday, June 21, 2024

Future of plastic

The EU has mandated that all plastic packaging will need to be reusable or recyclable by 2030. However, currently only 30% of EU plastic is recycled. Clearmark outlines some of the key alternatives to plastic packaging and considers why plastic remains so prevalent within packaging.

What is bioplastic packaging?
Bioplastics are made by fermenting sustainable, natural sources such as corn starch, vegetable fats or food waste to create natural polymers which are used instead of petroleum to create (bio)plastic.

What is compostable packaging?
Compostable packaging is packaging made out of a natural material that can break down into a natural product when exposed to the microbes it needs, for example a garden compost.

What is biodegradable plastic packaging?
Biodegradable plastic is any plastic that can be broken down. There is no time limit on how long it takes and these can leave harmful by-products, leading to criticism.

The positives of plastic
Plastic achieved its ubiquitous status within packaging thanks to its many positive qualities, such as price, convenience, flexibility, energy-efficiency, water-resistance, ease of producing, ease of sourcing, and compatibility with other products. For this reason replacing it is not an easy task as McDonalds found out when they replaced their plastic straws with paper straws. The straws could not be recycled by McDonalds, meaning nearly two million straws are binned every day. Adding to the irony, the plastic straws were fully recyclable. Whilst there is no doubt a growing trend towards more eco-friendly packaging, there are limitations preventing more widespread uptake. In part this can be explained by the many qualities of plastic packaging which business owners may still feel outweigh the eco-alternatives. This has meant that despite many seemingly good plastic alternatives there’s a long way to go to reach the EU target of all plastic packaging being recyclable by 2030.

To read more on the alternatives to plastic, including innovative packaging examples please, visit www.interactivecoding.co.uk/building-a-plastic-waste-free-future-through-innovative-packaging

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