Eco-friendly Packaging

Eco-friendly Packaging: What does it really mean?

Eco-friendly packaging is increasingly one of the required types of packaging. But what is really meant by this and the differences to the packaging mainly used so far are that you can find out in our home article.

Eco-friendly packaging – that’s what’s behind it?

In the following, we will show you what environmentally-friendly packaging is all about and what the differences to other packaging are:

  • There are already many differences between environmentally friendly packaging. First and foremost, however, this should be packaging that causes as little damage to the environment as possible, both in production and in the disposal. Alternatively, biodegradable packaging is made from natural raw materials and returns to nature after disposal.
  • The packaging is all the more environmentally friendly, the fewer fossil raw materials are required for production. In addition, CO2 emissions also play a major role. The aim is to reduce this in the production of packaging. If the packaging can still be easily disposed of after use and then recycled, it is considered environmentally friendly.
  • Separate garbage, you will be primarily concerned with the ‘green dot’. This is already environmentally friendly packaging, as it can also be recycled. However, cans or another packaging also carry the point, although they are anything but environmentally friendly to manufacture. Nevertheless, they can be recycled again and are therefore considered environmentally friendly.
  • Non-environmentally friendly packaging includes materials that can subsequently no longer be recycled or whose production requires an enormous amount of fossil materials. If possible, these types of packaging should be reduced in the future. This includes, above all, plastic. In particular, the disposal of plastic can cause enormous environmental damage if it cannot be recycled.
  • Tip: Pay attention to the indications on the packaging. Many manufacturers already print their products with the indication that the packaging is particularly environmentally friendly packaging. The reference ‘100 per cent biodegradable’ is also a good sign of this. Then, at least when it is disposed of, it is environmentally friendly packaging.

Conclusion: Sustainable packaging is complicated

Unfortunately, our recyclables system is incredibly complicated, and only a few studies include all environmental aspects. We have priority on the Co2footprint, less on degradability.

Since we are particularly critical of the plastic problem, we would select sustainable packaging in this order: no packaging, reusable containers (glass, aluminium, plastic), then cardboard, paper and another natural packaging, coated cartons and tetra pack, recyclable plastic, aluminium, glass, disposable plastic.

We have even more zero waste tips for everyday life here for you. Do you also want to dress sustainably? Then it would help if you liked our sustainable sneaker labels. Most work with vegan leather. Of course, we also have the best sustainable swimwear for the summer on balconies.

By the way, NewPack wants to take the first step towards sustainability and offers various sustainable and eco-friendly packaging products.

You may also read: What is the best solution for Plastic Free Packaging?

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Compostable vs. Biodegradable Packaging

Ever since the onset of COVID-19 and the physical restrictions imposed by governments worldwide, online business has grown leaps and bounds. More and more customers opt for the safety and comfort of ordering and fulfilling their requirements from their homes or offices. To attract more customers, online retailers are seeking customers by playing the sustainability card. Suddenly certain terminologies like ‘green,’ ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’ have exploded on the net. Naturally, this trend has hit the packaging products as well, where we are now encountering terms like ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ very often. As intelligent customers, we need to learn and understand these terms and their actual impact on the environment or how they differ.

So let’s understand the difference between Biodegradable and Compostable Packaging.

When we call a packaging material Biodegradable, it means that it will break down completely and return to natural elements upon the material being disposed of after usage. Usually, materials labelled as biodegradable take their time to break down; it can be a year or more. There is no specific time limit. Biodegradable materials are used more and more these days for landfills as it serves the twin purpose of reducing the cost and at the same time putting the waste to good use.

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Even though Compostable packaging materials are similar to biodegradable materials, both decompose to natural elements. However, compostable packaging material goes one step further to provide vital nutrients to the earth as they convert to soil manure in the process of its decomposition. While biodegradable materials can be disposed of in any landfill area, compostable materials can be disposed of only in specifically designated compost piles with certain wind, sunlight, and drainage requirements.

There are two major types of composting:

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1. Residential composting refers to the simple process of collecting food /vegetable/fruit scraps and dumping them along with garden waste in the backyard to create compost. The wastes need to be mixed and turned in frequently, and if required, you can also add some agents to quicken the process of decomposing while creating the compost. The waste can be used as manure rich in nutrients when it gradually turns into organic material.

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2. Commercial composting involves a bit more technology and know-how. In commercial composting, both organic and inorganic material are separated, and where required, they are broken down into smaller particles with chippers or grinders for faster decomposition. They also operate under certain optimal moisture, temperature, and wind conditions along with drainage facilities. As a result of these steps involved, more complex products can be broken down in a commercial composting unit than home composting.

Even though, essentially, both biodegradable and compostable material decomposes, the difference lies in ultimately what they leave behind after breaking down.

The Significance of Biodegradable and Compostable Packaging

When properly disposed of, compostable and biodegradable packaging is the perfect option for extending the world’s life, offering an imaginative and practical alternative to our current use and throw trends in society. These items use less energy and are much more environmentally friendly than using recyclable material, and provide an alternative to non-recyclable packaging.

Since paper and plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times, it is not a long-term solution for sustainability. Recycling is a more suitable choice long-term solution for materials like glass or aluminium etc. After a certain amount of cycles, discarded paper and plastic are more than likely to end up in landfills. This is where inventions such as biodegradable landfill packaging come out as a convenient waste disposal option, which involves no significant change in lifestyle.

Although not all biodegradable packaging can be disposed of sustainably, we are already into the early stages of a global transition toward a greener lifestyle. Industrial composting and biodegradation facilities would eventually be replacing conventional waste disposal in the future, finally putting an end to the devastating landfill crisis. Since most biodegradable goods do not specify how long they will take to decompose, it is usually safer and a lot easier to use compostable packaging. Composting has many advantages: it can be carried out at home in a conventional compost heap or worm bins or even compost bags and used to promote the growth of new plants. It would be good to check out the requirements for sustainability or disposability of the various packaging choices before going for the same. Whatever option you select, it’s good to look into the basic requirements for long-term disposal of the different packaging choices.

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Newpack provides compostable mailers in black and white colours. Read our blogs “The Importance of Sustainable Packaging” & “How to Compost your Compostable Mailers” to get a complete understanding of what, why, and how compostable mailers are better solutions for long-term sustainability.

How to compost your Compostable Mailers

Compostable packaging has begun to receive a lot of attention for its outstanding qualities. However, there is still a lack of awareness or knowledge about compostable packaging or what to do with compostable packaging. We’re seeing many companies adopting the new compostable packaging materials (including Newpack), whether in the form of cups, forks, take-out food containers, or mailers. It’s great to see this, and it’s a fantastic example of a step in the right direction for a promising future. The most exciting part is that the consumers who buy these products also have a role to play.

What does Compostable mean?

Composting is the natural process that allows organic matter to decay and turn into compost. You can collect your kitchen waste and create a small compost pile, which could turn into useful fertilizer for the kitchen garden. This can be done in your backyard—or even in compost containers as some creative people have come up with ways to compost in small apartments. Compostable packaging would mean that the materials can decompose into nutrient-rich soil within a certain period in a home-compost bin.

So what are biodegradable products? Aren’t they the same thing?

The answer to this is yes – the compost breaks down into the earth but adds nutrients to the soil while doing so. The term ‘biodegradable’sets no limit on how long the process of decomposition takes. Even a regular plastic-made  mailer is biodegradable – but the whole process of decomposition can take hundreds of years! Compostable packaging is different in that way. The waste material breaks down into natural elements within a very short period in a proper compost setting faster than ‘biodegradable’ products. Compostable packaging is also considered sustainable packaging because it releases no harmful residues as the materials break down. In short, everything compostable is biodegradable, but everything biodegradable is not compostable.

What are Compostable Mailers?

Compostable mailers are the replacements of the old plastic mailers with new plant-based mailers. Mailers are efficient shipping mailers that protect your products from weather conditions and during transit from the factory to the customer. However, unlike Regular mailers, these compostable mailers are made from plant-based materials such as PLA and a certified compostable material called PBAT. So a big no-no for plastic!

These tear-resistant shipping bags are made out of 100% corn-based polymers. This makes them easily compostable in a home or industrial compost heap. This creates an opportunity for a circular economy where sustainable packaging materials can be disposed of by the users for alternative uses without harming the environment.
It will only take about 6 months to completely break down and decompose in your very own backyard or compost bin. They are also durable, stretchable & water-proof. It distributes weight evenly, prevents tear & weather protection for shipping in all climate conditions. It releases no harmful residues while composting.

So how exactly do you decompose them?

The best thing about a compostable mailer is that it’s a mailer that can be reused. If the mailer’s condition is good, you can use it for another package before you think about composting it. All you may have to do is remove or cover any shipping labels and seal it with eco-friendly tape to reuse it. By doing this, you just saved yourself the cost of a new bag and gave this one a second life. After one or more usage, once you’re sure that your bag has reached the end of its life, here’s how you can compost it.

At the time of its final disposal, you will need to remove all the shipping labels, stickers, and adhesives from your package, and that’s about it – you’re ready to compost now! Just drop the bag in your compost bin or heap if you have one in your backyard alongside your other bio-waste. It will take about 180 days to break down into the soil. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!

Don’t worry if you haven’t started composting at home yet, or you don’t have a home compost facility. You can find plenty of places around the neighbourhood to drop your mailer bag, simply search on the internet for ‘composting facilities’ around you. Sometimes you can find pick-up services, or otherwise, you can find a convenient location to drop off your compost. Trust the process – it’s easier than you think!

Last but not least, the role of the consumer is key to participate in this drive for sustainability as without their usage and conscious efforts to dispose of the used mailers for composting, the whole idea would be rendered moot.
Newpack is committed for this, are you? Start using the compostable mailers and go green!!