How Can Packaging Users and Suppliers Support COP26 Goals?
In this article, we seek to raise awareness of the global climate crisis and how packaging can play a role in the solution. The article is written in the context of COP26 later this month, October 2021, and will seek to answer a few questions such as:
- What is COP 26?
- How does COP26 affect packaging producers and consumers?
- What packaging presents the greatest challenge?
- How can we Make a difference?
- As a Packaging user, where can you support the COP26 Goals?
- What packaging products are available to support these Goals?
- How can Eastpac help you to reduce your impact on the planet with eco-friendly packaging?
What is COP 26?
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change conference is being hosted by the United Kingdom with Glasgow as its venue and running from 31st October to 12th November. As the Conference will include the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) it has become known as COP26.
How does COP26 affect packaging producers and consumers?
One of the stated goals of COP26 that is of particular significance to the packaging industry and its consumers is the need to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
What packaging presents the greatest challenge?
Single-use plastic packaging has been widely used for many years, with the food industry being one of the largest consumers. From drinking straws and coffee stirrers to airtight packaging for fresh, chilled and frozen foods, single-use plastics have provided a cheap, hygienic solution perfectly suited to mass production.
Elsewhere in the sector, plastic bags have been an inexpensive means of holding quantities of small items and for protecting products against moisture, dust and other contaminants, while plastic stretch wrapping film is a fast and effective means of stabilising palletised loads.
Single-use packaging is one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution, leading to overflowing landfill sites, polluted streets, countryside and waterways, and islands of floating waste in our oceans.
This situation is compounded by the fact that many single-use plastics are also non-biodegradable. While some of these may break down within ten to twenty years, others will still be around for several hundreds of years. Pieces small enough to be ingested by wildlife will fill the stomach and mask the sensation of hunger, leading to weakness, malnutrition and death. If they block the gastrointestinal tract they can prevent the plastic from being excreted. Even when the plastic has broken down, ingested microparticles can contain toxic elements that increase the chances of disease and affect fertility.
But this problem isn’t confined to plastic packaging. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sets standards for responsible forest management that ensure timber harvesting is sustainable and maintains the biodiversity of the forest’s natural ecosystem for the benefit of the people and wildlife who call the forest home.
How can we make a difference?
As manufacturers and users of packaging, we can make a difference in one or more ways.
If you’re wanting some more information, here are five things you need to know about recycled paper packaging.
Replace packaging with more eco-friendly alternatives
Some features of plastic packaging cannot be easily replicated by non-plastic alternatives. If that is the case, biodegradable plastics can be a good alternative, particularly if they are made from vegetable-derived substances rather than petrochemicals.
In the food packaging sector, many plastic products have already been replaced with non-plastic alternatives: paper straws, wooden coffee stirrers and paper cups are a few examples.
In the Distribution and Manufacturing sectors, there is an ever-increasing range of eco-friendly alternatives for packaging and protecting products on the way to consumers.
Reduce single-use packaging volumes
Retailers are reducing the amount of plastic or cardboard used to package products, dispensing with non-essential outer cartons and replacing jars with sachets.
There is also a trend towards ‘packaging-free products, with customers bringing their own receptacles into the store to be filled with products dispensed from bulk containers.
Use packaging materials sourced & produced from sustainable, managed sources
As the FSC program is entirely voluntary, timber producers aren’t legally bound to comply. It’s therefore advisable to make sure you are buying paper or cardboard packaging from an FSC certified source.
Design packaging more intelligently
As previously mentioned, the amount of packaging used to store, protect and present a product can often be reduced as a means of cutting packaging waste. Care must be taken however to ensure the product is adequately protected, as damages will have a negative environmental impact through wastage and the increased carbon footprint created by redelivering replacement products.
Intelligent product packaging can also benefit the environment in a surprising number of ways. For example, if the packaging is compact enough to allow a product to be posted through a letterbox, it can save multiple failed delivery attempts if there is nobody available to receive the consignment.
I’m a packaging user. Where can I start to reduce my impact on the planet?
If you are buying packaging, ask your supplier what eco-friendly options and alternatives they can offer. This is a very active sector in the packaging industry and new, innovative products are being constantly developed. Here are a few ideas:
- If you’re currently using plastic mailing bags or bubble lined envelopes, change to using eco-friendly paper mailing bags and plastic-free paper padded envelopes.
- As an eco-friendly alternative to plastic packing tape, water-activated tape also performs better and costs less per carton to seal.
- You can also recycle a wide range of packaging. If you receive goods in cardboard boxes but prefer to send them out in your own cartons, a cardboard shredder will quickly and easily turn those old boxes into free, eco-friendly void fill.
If you still need to stretch wrap your pallet loads, you’ll find pre-stretched film offers greater pallet stability with less film used than a conventional stretch wrap.
Ready to Make a Difference? Eastpac can Assist!
We hope this article has helped to bring awareness to the way that packaging, while a ubiquitous part of everyday life, can be detrimental to our planet.
Eastpac can meet with your company and discuss ways to:
- Transition from single-use to recyclable or Eco-friendly packaging options including responsibly sourced FSC cardboard packaging.
- Reduce the amount of plastic used in your warehouse and distribution centres with smart and unique pallet wrapping solutions.
- Discuss solutions to reduce re-deliveries, returns and damage of products in transit to consumers which will reduce your carbon footprint and emissions.