Packaging Innovation
July 31, 2015

Sustainable packaging: do’s and don’ts

While manufacturers and packaging designers work hard to offer sustainable packaging, there still is a lot of work to do. Simply walk through the aisles in your local supermarket and you will notice that eco-packaging is a long way from becoming standard. Here are 3 product groups that could do with an ecological makeover.

1) Chip bags

The problem: Your typical chip bag is made from seven layers of foil and plastic. They are light, reduce shipping volume and are graphics friendly. The problem is the different foil layers cannot be separated by a machine so they can’t be recycled. The solution: Multi-layered packaging is considered the worst of the worst when it comes to recycling. There is no easy solution. Consumer education might go a long way toward increasing the potential for recycling. Another option is upcycling: have consumers reuse the bags for craft projects or to store their sandwiches.

2) Single-serving food

 The problem: In general, the smaller the package and the greater its mix of materials, the less recyclable the packaging is. As a result, single-serving foods, such as yogurt and coffee cups, are very hard to recycle. The solution: Advances in technology might lead to new sorting machines and more sustainable polymers. Alternatively, companies could redesign their packaging to make it more sustainable – for instance through compostable, biodegradable packaging.

3) Toothpaste and toothbrush

 The problem: The small size, blender material and leftover toothpaste inside tubes make recycling almost impossible. The tender shape and blend of plastic and nylon bristles of toothbrushes make them tough to disassemble and recycle. The solution: Colgate-Palmolive has been working with As You Sow (AYS), a non-profit environmental protection group, to create a recyclable toothpaste tube or package. Inspired by The Guardian