News 1: Recently a enterprise launched a Plastic Free label to help shoppers discern products that have plastic packaging. Iceland in the UK has taken this on, who are also working towards being the first major supermarket to have zero plastic packaging usage for their own brand by 2022.
News 2: Raglan, New Zealand is already on their journey to creating a landfill free town: http://greenribbonawards.org.nz/?q=raglan-zero-waste (Helegant – what if your council could do the same to reduce the waste and thus reduce the need for an incinerator to burn landfill waste?)
Waiuku, New Zealand is following behind and is in the early stages of idea generation to normalise people defining the rubbish they generate with the key emphasis on the words REDUCE & REUSE and any rubbish generated to be recycled within the country. Most likely there will still be some landfill items.
I was given the opportunity to provide some feedback in Waiuku’s initial idea generation. Want to share one of the solutions provided as shops need to ensure their fragile goods are protected without having to use expanded polystyrene or bubble wrap. So here is…..
Day 25: Packaging for Goods and Food
Fragile goods & electronic goods are packaged in polystyrene or bubble wrap as both are light weight and can absorb an amount of energy that comes from rough handling to circumvent damages. Food packaging comes in copious amounts of plastic packaging because apparently this gives the consumers a sense of safety and hygiene and keeps soft items intact.
So what can be used instead?
For an alternative to loose polystyrene peanuts / beads:
- Shredded used paper – note if you are using sensitive information this can be pieced together using technology: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16036967
- Popcorn – lighter than shredded paper and proven to work for Lush. See here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2007/aug/06/popcornblog
- If you ate the popcorn, then try biodegradable air peanuts – though can be heavier than its polystyrene cousin.
For an alternative to expanded polystyrene:
- Mushroom + has a huge carbon saving over expanded polystyrene (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-5784)
- Seaweed Packaging has recently been announced and like mushrooms also has a lot of versatility and reduced carbon emissions in production.
- Hey – what about Pressed Hay?
You might consider a special elasticated silicon to wrap your fragile items that can be returned to the vendor via the courier. Look up reusable options via the web.
What About The Tape?
Tape is typically made from polyurethane, acrylic or acetate. So what are the alternatives:
- Water-Activated Tape – lots of different brands to choose from. Here is information about it: https://www.hughesent.com/blog/5-benefits-of-water-activated-tape-gum-tape/
Packaging? What We Need is a Replicator
Out of all the packaging materials, think we all agree that plastic has the worst environmental impact due to the poor management of this material worldwide. However shifting from disposing of one material to another material is denying that we have a waste generation issue that is on a growing scale. The better solution would be to go Zero Waste and redefine our economies to support a circular economy which would reduce carbon emissions. Wonder what the energy requirements for the Replicator would be? (come on Manchester University – the world is waiting)…..No more packaging would be required!