Packaging purgatory: a journey to reduce plastic - part 3

Packaging purgatory: a journey to reduce plastic - part 3

We are having daily revelations in our sustainable packaging explorations. It really is a minefield and when you think you’ve had a win, you realise it may actually not be the move in the right direction you thought it was! This slightly disappointing aspect aside, we’re continuing in our quest!

Day 9 - we’ve come across a UK business that can help us with testing the products we’re thinking of using. They’re great at providing information and we’ve found out lots of useful stuff:

  • Polybags can be recyclable, as long as it doesn’t crinkle. This is the way to tell! If it doesn't crinkle, it’s probably ok to recycle it. So non-crinkly bags are the way forward? Maybe - but many local authorities (the chief recycling points for the general public) don’t yet recycle these types of polybags. 
  • Whilst a supplier can give you info about a bag (eg what it’s made from, where it was produced, etc) how can you 100% know that all that information is valid?
  •  The answer? (Possibly!) There are machines that can test these bags or any other bit of plastic and tell you what it’s made up of. Interesting!
  • This means that they can then tell you what happens when you try to compost it, and how quickly it will biodegrade. 
  • Essentially, everything can be recycled but you have to have the means by which to recycle it. As we mention above, with local authorities the principal recyclers in most communities, it relies on them to provide the facilities to recycle any particular material.  With most local authorities still operating under fairly austere budgets, it’s unlikely they’re going to all start investing in the same new machinery across the board.

Day 10 - we find out about a bag made from sugar cane which, in theory, is 100% recyclable (but, then, as we previously said, everything - in theory - is recyclable!). It’s made from green polythene, and helps reduce greenhouse gases. But where can you recycle it? Another nice idea but no good if it can’t actually be recycled by 92%* of our customers. Might be worth exploring so we put it on the ‘maybe’ list.

The testing of items for biodegradability and compostability has piqued our interest so we have asked a testing company to ask how much it is. We will report back!

*random guess!

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