Sustainable Packaging Design
Plastic packaging is lightweight, cost-efficient and does a great job protecting and preserving food. When talking about packaging sustainability, it’s important to think about packaging sustainability and responsible management of resources in terms of the whole waste hierarchy – the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It is known as a “hierarchy” for a reason– REDUCING our use of materials from the start is the most important “R.” Reducing the overall use of material equates to savings: raw materials never extracted, energy and water not used, and decreased transport requirements. Check it out, in depth.
It can take less lightweight plastic to package many products than alternatives. Substituting a variety of plastics packaging** with non-plastics alternatives would increase the amount of packaging generated annually in the U.S. by 55 million tons. 1
Reducing what we use in the first place conserves natural resources and means there is less overall material produced, per application. In fact, replacing all plastic packaging with alternatives would use more energy and create more greenhouse gases. 1
Plastics used in packaging help prevent food waste, deliver food safely, and meet FDA safety standards.
Plastic packaging creates less greenhouse gases
than alternative packaging.
Plastic tuna pouch
Plastic coffee brick
Alternatives would result in 130% more global warming potential.
That's like adding 15.7 million cars to our roads.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Recover.
More plastic is being recycled now than ever before and most Americans can recycle plastics after use.
Americans can recycle plastic bottles 2
3+ B lbs. Bottles recycled in 2014
Americans can recycle plastic bags and wraps at stores 3
1.2+ B lbs. Flexible polyethylene film recycled in 2014
Americans can recycle other rigid plastics 4
1.3+ B lbs. Other rigid plastics recycled in 2014
Through a combination of recycling and energy conversion, the United States recovered 27% of used plastics in 2013.
And finally, technologies that convert non-recycled plastic into energy help divert additional materials from landfills.
Study: "Impact of Plastics Packaging on Life Cycle Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States and Canada," Franklin Associates, 2014. This study measures energy use and GHG emissions and is not an ISO 14044 life cycle assessment.
1Impact of plastics packaging on life cycle energy consumption & greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and Canada https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Education-Resources/Publications/Impact-of-Plastics-Packaging.pdf
22014 United States National Postconsumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/education-resources/publications/2014-national-post-consumer-plastics-bottle-recycling-report.pdf
32014 National Postconsumer Plastic Bag & Film Recycling Report http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/pdf/2014Film_Report_Final.pdf
42014 National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Education-Resources/Publications/2014-National-Report-on-Post-Consumer-Non-Bottle-Rigid-Plastic-Recycling.pdf
**The study assessed the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions of six general categories of plastic packaging produced and sold in the United States and Canada. These include caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers, carrier bags, stretch/shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging.
*Water, energy, materials