A short guide on eco-packaging.

Nature-friendly plastic available at the market.

Recently we noticed significant increase in demand for all and any kinds of packaging made of eco-friendly materials. Whether it’s about growing environmental awareness or just chasing common trends – it doesn’t matter, what’s good for the planet is good for everyone. «We are not above nature, we are part of nature».

Lots of cosmetic firms started to desire to pack their products in eco-friendly jars and bottles. They buy packaging which is claimed to be ecological but do not know if it is proven that it is safe for environment and good-quality product. Buying from such firms may be an option for start-ups, but surely not for sustainable regional and national brands. So, before risking one’s sales and reputation in a pursuit for a trendy and pro-eco image, it’s worth to first have close look at all the “eco”, “bio” and other “green” packaging glossary.

Bio-based plastics.

Something getting extremely fashionable nowadays. Bio-plastic, or bio-based plastic means polymers produced of renewable, non-petroleum raw materials – corn, sugar cane, cellulose and so on. hey do less harm to the environment by, first, being biodegradable, and second, by being produced of easily renewable stuff. The mark “bio-based” always signalizes the genesis of the plastic jar, bottle or closure.

Whatever happens to it after use, has its own designation.

Biodegradable plastics.

Biodegradable materials are those which in certain conditions can be decomposed and metabolized by microorganisms. There are two kids of biodegradable plastics:

  • Bio-based plastics, naturally biodegradable, that don’t require any special conditions for that.
  • Petroleum-based polymers with special, enabling biodegradation additives.

Biodegradable polymers get recycled in cells with higher temperature, humidity, amount of oxygen and clumps of bacteria digesting the plastic. Manufacturing of type 1 biodegradable plastic packaging is by now the most popular and most invested-in kind of eco-packaging production. Besides lower environmental impact after use, the production process itself, rendering significantly less harm to the planet, as compared to petroleum-based polymers.

Compostable plastics.

A “major league eco” material is often confused with biodegradable. Only materials able to decompose in “wild nature” into water, CO2 and biomass within relatively short time and without any special conditions, have a right to be called compostable. Some biodegradable plastics are capable of that, too, however take much more time to break down and leave chemical traces anyway, so cannot be fairly called compostable. So, compostable plastic always includes biodegradable material, but not the other way round. Compostable packaging is today’s most scarce eco-kind, but as for environmental impact, it’s the best you can do, so taking time and some extra budget is definitely worth it.

Recyclable plastics.

Actually, 99% of plastic packaging is recyclable, no matter whether it’s biodegradable, compostable, bio-based or not. Usual petroleum-based plastics are recyclable, too. fter segregation, plastics get ground up, cleaned and then re-used. What appears after this process is called recycled plastic – PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) or PIR (Post-Industrial Recycled), depending on origination. One of recycling’s key fundamentals is that once recycled, plastic can no more appear as the same kind of product, as originally. A recycled bottle may become a park bench or an insulant, but never – another cosmetic bottle.

By far not all recyclable packaging deserves to be marked as “eco”. No matter where it originates, almost every plastic may be recycled and re-used in lots of industries. The mark “recycled” is nowadays rather an ecological minimum program than real and relevant advantage. Another way to reduce environmental impact is to reach towards packaging manufacturers investing in or already possessing low-impact production sites. This includes such technologies as, for example, low emission and electrical consumption, non-waste or full circle (production plus recycling) manufacturing.