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Packaging materials

Packaging materials

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Packaging materials

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  1. PowerPoint eight Packaging materials

  2. Materials Most packing contains a number of different materials, although this may make it more difficult to recycle. • The most commonly used packaging materials in the UK are: • paper and board (43%) • plastic (20%) • glass (19%) • steel and aluminium (14%)

  3. Selecting the right material Material selection is based on: • technical properties (strength, flexibility, etc.) • fitness for purpose (moisture barrier, cushioning, etc.) • availability • manufacturing capability • cost • environmental impact • regulations

  4. Paper and cardboard Paper and cardboard are derived from trees. The extent to which the forests are properly managed affects the environmental sustainability of paper as a packaging material.

  5. Paper and cardboard recycling Paper and cardboard cannot be recycled indefinitely. When paper is recycled the fibres get shorter. New material with longer fibre length must be added to recycled material to make office-quality paper. Paper and cardboard contaminated with food residue – like pizza boxes – cannot by recycled. They can be home composted.

  6. Designing with paper Consider: • designs that use less paper or cardboard • designs that can be reused • using materials with high recycled content • using mechanical locking instead of staples or glue • labelling that states where the wood came from and how the forest was managed • labelling that informs consumers that the packaging can be recycled

  7. Metals The metals most commonly used for packaging are steel and aluminium. Both of these rely on environmentally destructive mining practices to obtain new materials.

  8. Metal recycling Aluminium and steel are infinitely recyclable, and do not loose their quality as a result of recycling. Recycling aluminium cans saves 95 percent of the energy used to make aluminium cans from virgin ore.

  9. Designing with metals Consider • designs that use less metal – cylindrical shapes with straight vertical sides use less material • designs that use thinner metals – this reduces weight for transport • using metals made from recycled materials • labelling that informs consumers that the packaging can be recycled

  10. Glass Glass manufacturing is energy intensive and requires large volumes of water. It takes one tonne of water to produce one tonne of glass.

  11. Glass recycling Glass can be recycled indefinitely, but it must be colour sorted to maximise its recycling potential. Because so many products in glass containers are imported into the UK, more bottles are recycled than are needed. When the demand for recycled glass is low, many service providers use a single collection bin. This low quality cullet is used as an aggregate in bituminous concrete.

  12. Designing with glass Consider • designs that use less glass – cylindrical shapes with straight vertical sides use less material • designs that use thinner glass – this reduces weight for transport • a design that can be reused • a design made from recycled glass • use organic labels that burn off easily during recycling • labelling that informs consumers that the packaging can be recycled

  13. Plastics Plastics are a group of materials, typically made from petroleum-based compounds. They can also be made from organic materials like plant starch. There are more than 50 different types of plastic and hundreds of varieties.

  14. Plastic recycling An international system of coding is used to identify types of petroleum-based plastics for the purpose of recycling. SPI resin ID codes 1 and 2 are most widely recyclable. Bio-plastics can be composted, but not in home composters.

  15. Designing with plastic • Consider • designs that use less plastic – cylindrical shapes with straight vertical sides use less material • designs that use thinner plastic – this reduces weight for transport • a design that can be reused • a design made from recycled plastic (SPI resin codes 1-2) • avoid coloured plastic (they’re more difficult to recycle) • labelling that informs consumers that the packaging can be recycled

  16. Biodegradable materials Biodegradable packaging materials are typically made from agricultural waste by-products, such as grain husks. ‘Ecocradle’ is a Styrafoam substitute corner protector that is grown rather than manufactured. Fungi are grown in a waste grain mixture and give the material its unique structure. Image from http://uo-gpdn.ning.com

  17. Composting biodegradable materials Biodegradable materials can be added to home compost piles, although some require industrial composting technologies that achieve higher temperatures.

  18. Designing with biodegradable materials Consider • designing a new biodegradable material • a design that uses biodegradable materials • labelling that informs consumers that the materials can be home composted

  19. Other materials considerations Packaging materials themselves are just one consideration. Other things to consider include: • Use of composite materials Packaging made from composite materials are more difficult to recycle • Other secondary materials Packaging involves the use of adhesives, tapes, inks, coatings, etc. that all have sustainable alternatives • Packaging machines Manufacturing packaging involves the construction of complex machines that use resources and energy

  20. Consumer perspective What role does sustainable packaging play in consumer choice?