Plastics currently used as primary packaging in various industries are efficient but not sustainable:
- Most commercial plastics are produced from non-renewable fossil fuels.
- The production of these plastics from petrochemical sources results in significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to global warming.
- Due to the limitations of the global recycling infrastructure, a large amount of plastic packaging currently ends up in marine litter, which has a negative impact on marine life and habitats.
Alternatives to plastic packaging require the creation of technical solutions that are environmentally friendly, reusable, biodegradable, and substitutable. Conventional plastics should be avoided while maintaining or even improving their properties. Are there sustainable solutions for primary plastic packaging?
Alternative sustainable solutions for primary plastic packaging exist
First of all, remember that a primary package is a package that comes in direct contact with the product itself. The primary function of the primary packaging is to protect and preserve the product that it wraps[efn_note]Secondary packaging includes several products. Tertiary packaging groups together larger quantities as part of the logistics of product distribution. Consumers are in direct contact with primary and secondary packaging, but not with tertiary packaging.[/efn_note]. Various types of conventional plastics are generally used to perform this function because of their favorable performance/cost ratio.
Today, there are sustainable solutions to achieve equivalent performance from materials other than conventional plastics.
There are five families of sustainable primary packaging solutions
Here are the five families of sustainable solutions for primary packaging, for which conventional plastic materials[efn_note]Source: Presans.[/efn_note] are typically used today:
- Natural polymers (this family of solutions comes in 5 types of materials)
- Bio-polymers (11 types of materials)
- Alternative polymers (4 types of materials)
- Multimaterials (3 types of materials)
- Substitute materials (1 type of material)
The technologies to replace plastic packaging exist, now it’s time to implement them!
And to go further, industrial innovation players are likely to need a complete state of the art for each variety of technological solutions, including:
- the description of the material concerned and its implementation;
- an assessment of its degree of maturity, and for the less mature ones, the problems that remain to be solved;
- an indication of the recyclable, reusable, or compostable nature of the material;
- a discussion of the compatibility of the material with its contents and its compliance with applicable standards;
- a discussion of the ability of the material to be processed by different technologies;
- a discussion of the possible need to combine the material with other materials;
- a discussion of potential safety issues for end-users;
- an indication of who in the world is involved in research and innovation around the material.
Presans can help you to quickly sort out emerging technologies, and thus contribute significantly to your roadmap for replacing plastic packaging with sustainable solutions.