We all know that anything that can’t be recycled is either burned or sent to landfill. Provided that we use the right bins, everything else – whether it’s paper, cardboard, glass or plastic – is sent to material recovery facilities. From there, it’s sorted into its constituent parts and is then sent off to be recycled. This puts our consciences at ease and we don’t give too much thought to what happens after.
However, the problem is that most of the packaging we send off to be recycled consists of lots of different materials. This then makes it difficult to sort and separate the materials to be recycled. So, what is mono material packaging and, more importantly, how can it support a circular economy?
What is a mono material?
A mono material refers to a product composed of a single material or fibre, as opposed to packaging made from different materials. This makes the recycling process much easier, as it reduces the amount of energy required to split or separate various materials. Plus, the increased efficiency means that recycling is much more cost-effective and faster.
Out of all the materials usually used for packaging, plastic is arguably the most difficult to recycle. Take a bottle, for example, it could be made out of polyethene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethene (HDPE) or, in some cases, general-purpose polystyrene (PS). These plastics have to be separated before they can be mechanically recycled – otherwise, they will be downcycled, rather than recycled.
Downcycling occurs the recycling process results in materials of lower quality. For obvious reasons, this is not good for the environment or the packaging industry, for that matter. Sometimes the plastics may even be contaminated beyond reusability. If packaging only consists of one material, however, then we don’t need to worry about efficiency or quality in packaging lines.
Though it’s worth noting that packaging consisting of more than one material is not always difficult to recycle. For example, glass jars with paper labels are fairly easy to separate and then recycle. The same is usually true for other packaging materials with paper labels. Of course, these are not mono materials, but they do help to support circular economy models.
Rising demand for mono material packaging solutions
Let’s face it, consumers today are becoming increasingly aware of the problems with recycling plastic – and they want a solution! Pretty soon mixed plastic products could become as taboo as single-use plastic bags or tobacco. Improving recyclability is no longer a nice extra, but an expectation that consumers have for businesses.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a social shift away from unsustainable products. 60% of consumers say that they strive to make more environmentally-friendly choices when making purchases – this includes opting for products with more sustainable packaging. With this in mind, it’s important for businesses to consider sustainable packaging solutions for their products.
In fact, data suggests that consumer demand for mono material packaging will grow by 3.9% every year between now and 2025. This means that there could be increased pressure on brands to make the switch and ‘close the loop’.
On top of that, driving a circular economy can have other significant business benefits.
Not only can you reduce your product footprint by 75-85%, but you can also reduce your business costs by up to 15%. Plus, investing in recyclable packaging can help reduce supply chain risks. So, it’s clear that increasing recyclability is not just good for the environment, but is good for business as well.
How Tyler Packaging can help
At Tyler Packaging, we use mono polymer technology to make packaging that is 100% recyclable. We have worked with businesses to construct mono material films from single polymer resin to produce packaging that is sustainable and attractive.
We understand that making the switch to sustainable packaging isn’t always easy. But we can work with you to find the right packaging solution for your product.