However, it’s fair to say that we’ve heard (and seen) a lot about why plastic is bad over the years. The unsightly images of polluted oceans featuring plastic bags, bottles and food wrappers as the primary culprits. These images have turned what was touted as a miracle material into a scapegoat for the climate crisis.
As a nation, we have become more environmentally friendly, or we are trying to be at least. 92% of adults are concerned about plastic pollution and many are taking steps to reduce their plastic footprint – be it recycling, bringing their own bottles and carrier bags to shops, or giving up plastic altogether. However, going plastic-free is not all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it could actually cause more harm than good.
Whilst ‘generation green’ continues to champion greener measures, support for the ban on single-use plastics dropped from 47% to 39%. The reason for this? Well, it’s simple really – plastic is useful. Read on for the full lowdown on the benefits.
Why is plastic good for packaging?
On the surface, plastic may seem like an impractical material. However, the reality is plastic packaging isn’t just there to make products look pretty. It is extremely useful for packaging food, as it helps to preserve goods, which in turn prevents food waste.
Our homes are bursting with plastic – most of which is food packaging. It’s nearly impossible to find food in the supermarket that isn’t enveloped in glossy packaging – almost everything we buy comes packaged. To make matters worse, a whopping 900 million tonnes of plastic is thrown away every year. That’s enough food trucks to circle the Earth seven times! So understandably, for many people, plastic pollution is a big concern.
However, food waste poses a bigger threat to the environment than plastic packaging. Food waste is responsible for between 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Believe it or not, that’s triple the amount generated from plastic waste. With this in mind, we need plastic packaging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a nutshell, improved plastic packaging helps to reduce food waste, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If it is then recycled, this reduces CO2 emissions even further.
Fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and grapes lose moisture very quickly. Without at least 1.5 grams of plastic packaging for protection, they will become unusable very quickly and end up in the bin. For example, plastic packaging can extend the shelf life of a cucumber by around 11 days. Similarly, plastic packaging helps reduce food waste for grapes by 20%. That’s quite impressive when you consider the grave impact food waste has on the environment.
Why is plastic good for the Earth?
The benefits of plastic packaging don’t end there! Overall, plastic is generally lighter than other packaging materials such as glass and card and therefore is more environmentally friendly.
A glass bottle usually weighs between 190g and 250g. A plastic bottle, on the other hand, generally contains only 18 grams of plastic. Transporting drinks in heavier packaging requires 40% more energy and increases transport costs by five times per bottle. This in turn saves fuel and reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions.
On top of that, we are also able to use plastic more efficiently compared to other materials. If alternative materials were used for packaging, greenhouse gas emissions, energy and overall packaging consumption would increase. Plus, around 60% of plastic products or products containing plastic packaging have a use phase of up to 50 years or more. This clearly highlights that not every artificially encased product becomes waste quickly. With that in mind, the environmental impact of plastic packaging may not be as immediate as it initially seemed.
How does producing plastics benefit the economy?
The good news is that plastics are socially sustainable too! As the years go by, our recycling rates continue to improve.
In 2010, the UK recycling rate was 41.2%. By 2019, This figure rose to 45.5%. Why does this matter? The short answer is that recycling helps conserve energy. By recycling a single plastic bottle, we can conserve enough energy to power a 10W LED light bulb for up to 36 hours.
Producing, collecting and recycling plastics has provided jobs to around 180,000 Brits. Plus, there are a plethora of valuable careers in the plastic industry and there is lots of room for professional development and progression.
What can your business do to help?
Yes, plastics are good for the environment and society. Having said that, it’s important to make sure that your business is using the right packaging materials. In order to align your packaging solutions with circular economy models – and more importantly to make sure that your business and consumers are reaping the benefits of plastic – it’s a good idea to choose mono-material packaging.
Most plastic packaging is too difficult to recycle or is simply unrecyclable because it consists of more than one material. Mono materials, however, are made of a single material, making them much easier to recycle.
At Tyler Packaging, we specialise in producing packaging that is 100% recyclable. We use mono polymer technology to create films from single polymer resin that are environmentally friendly and do not compromise quality.
Give us a call on 01926 651451 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to help your business find the best packaging solution for your product or answer any further questions you have about why is plastic good.