Comparing packaging materials – a clear winner
08.09.2019 - Sustainability, Cartonboard Know-How
Renewable, biodegradable, recyclable – which packaging materials meet the requirements of a functioning circular economy?
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A comparison of all packaging materials with regard to the most important sustainability parameters shows a clear winner
Plastics for the packaging industry (PE, PP, PET) are mainly produced from fossil raw materials (crude oil), which are finite by nature. Only an insignificant proportion is made from renewable raw materials.
Bioplastics or biopolymers may be based on renewable or petrochemical raw materials; however, a definition has not been clearly defined yet.
Plastics can technically be recycled, but in practice, accurately separating out sufficient quantities is difficult. In most cases, mixed plastic waste cannot be recycled to the same level of quality, so experts talk about down-cycling instead of recycling.
Bioplastics disrupt the recycling process used for mineral oil-based plastics. A separate recycling stream for bioplastics is not economically viable today.
Glass can undergo the melting process as many times as required, allowing it to be processed to form new products. Despite the high recycling rate for glass, producing a single bottle requires a huge amount of energy.
Plastic has an extremely long lifecycle when exposed to the environment. Plastic packaging takes decades or even centuries to break down. Even oxo-degradable plastics, which are treated with additives so that they dissolve after a certain time, do not completely decompose, but rather disintegrate into microplastic.
All of the key associations in the German waste management industry have fundamentally opposed the composting of biodegradable plastics in a policy paper. There is no opposition to bio-based, certified biodegradable plastic bags for collecting organic household waste.
The production process for glass uses quartz sand, which is not organic and therefore not biodegradable. A glass bottle can last for up to 1 million years.
The packaging of tomorrow is renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and thus environmentally friendly.
A minimum of energy and resources are consumed by producing it.
For all these reasons, folding cartons represent
the best choice of packaging
in the interests of a circular economy now and in the future.