As consumers have become more aware of the proliferation of plastic pollution in our landfills and oceans, product developers and researchers have been hard at work to develop plastic alternatives. Not only do these alternatives create longevity for the business but they also create positive outcomes for the environment.
Unfortunately, when plastic ends up in our oceans, it disintegrates and becomes absorbed by fish and sea animals. This affects sea populations and can end up on our dinner plates. With over 25% of consumers reporting to be extremely concerned about plastic packaging, it’s no wonder companies are acting quickly.
There are many applications for plastic in packaging that are being replaced by other types of materials. One of those items is the plastic bottle. Due to its widespread application, bottles are seen in every product market segment. Examples include beauty, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and automotive.
What is replacing the traditional plastic bottle? Let’s explore common alternative products and materials.
Plant-based plastics, or bioplastics, are making headlines for their sustainable production and recycling capacity. Examples of plants that can be used to create bioplastics are corn, mushroom root, bagasse (a by-product of sugarcane processing), seaweed, barley and wheat.
Many of these bioplastics are biodegradable and compostable, bringing a strong consumer appeal. They are often cheaper to produce and have a lower impact on the environment during the production process.
Pouches have endless uses and applications, and one of those is to replace bottles. Advancements in pouch durability has made it easy to contain liquids which would have previously been contained in plastic bottles.
Production costs are also lower with pouches – by over half – in comparison to plastic bottles. There’s also cost savings in shipping, from the large scale distribution down to individual packages. With e-commerce and food delivery being so popular, the need for lighter, more flexible materials is evident.
There are also usability benefits when it comes to a pouch (versus a plastic bottle). Pouches can fit easily in different sizes and shapes of spaces. There’s an unlimited number of accessories that can be added to pouches, such as zippers and spouts.
Common examples of pouches replacing bottles include:
One potential replacement for plastic bottles is paper. Companies are getting creative with the way paperboard can be utilized in packaging. Advancements in paper products have led to waterproof solutions that are durable and multifunctional. Two prominent examples include paper water bottles and paper shower-friendly shampoo bottles.
Reusable containers have gained popularity as well. Metal and glass water bottles have emerged as an eco-friendly way to reuse and reduce. This gives companies an opportunity to sell their products in branded bottles that can be reused for other applications or as beverage containers, which expands brand awareness.
Another alternative is seaweed plastics. Seaweed plastic gained traction when the London Marathon replaced plastic bottles with edible water pouches made of seaweed. The seaweed is edible, creating a zero-waste alternative to plastic bottles.
The tides have shifted to a consumer perspective that is hypersensitive to sustainability in all of the products they use. Taking it further, if we want to have longevity with the resources that we depend on to operate our businesses, it’s important to find ways to reduce waste and find sustainable alternatives.
At Hughes, we’re always eager to help our customers find eco-friendly, sustainable methods for packaging their products. Contact a Hughes Packaging expert today to learn more about how we can help you make your packaging line more sustainable.
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