It is becoming increasingly clear that the days of single-use plastic packaging products are numbered.
Not only are there less polluting alternatives, but governments worldwide are actively legislating to ban their use.
So why is it, then, that an estimated more than 350,000 tonnes of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam – one such single-use plastic – is still used in packaging every year?
Could it be that many businesses have still yet to realise that these kind of plastics are destroying our oceans, killing our wildlife and poisoning the air we breathe?
What is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)?
EPS is lightweight, cheap, can be moulded to any shape, and offers excellent insulation – making it a convenient choice for many businesses. So, it can be of little surprise that the global polystyrene packaging industry has been valued at around £13 billion.
But, in this increasingly environmentally-conscious world, businesses can no longer claim ignorance of the negative ecological impact of the conveniences they once enjoyed. The fact is that EPS is very difficult to recycle as local authorities frequently do not accept it, meaning it contributes to around 1.8 million tonnes of plastic packaging that is either sent to landfill, littered or illegally dumped in the UK every year. Many of these plastics can take thousands of years to break down, harming wildlife and eco-systems in the process.
Introducing EcoLITE by PALLITE®
EcoLITE by PALLITE® is a sustainable and truly viable replacement for the likes of expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyethylene (PE) foam. Made from 90% recycled paper and itself 100% recyclable, it uses the same honeycomb technology as PALLITE®’s other protective packaging products. EcoLITE is ideal for use as void filler, corner protection, edge protection and wrap-around – making it a practical replacement for EPS and PE foam for businesses looking to boost their eco-credentials.
EcoLITE vs Polystyrene: Production
Polystyrene contributes to the depletion of the earth’s natural resources. The plastics industry relies on finite stocks of oil and gas for up to 90% of its feedstock, but the figure for plastic packaging is even higher, as so few plastics are recycled into packaging. Supporters of polystyrene cite the fact it is 95% air as evidence of its eco-credentials, but the fact is that many of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process are toxic to the environment.
EcoLITE is made from 100% renewable resources. Virgin fibres used to make paper come from wood chips produced as waste from sawmills or as the result of removing young trees to support forest growth. All paper used in the production of EcoLITE is FSC-certified, and 90% is recycled fibre. Using recycled paper saves 65% of the energy needed to make new paper, reduces water pollution by 35% and air pollution by 74%.
EcoLITE vs Polystyrene: End-of-life/Disposal
Research by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests the global recycling rate for plastics is only 14%. Most are sent to landfill, littered or illegally dumped. EPS is difficult to recycle into new products: no local authority in the UK currently does so, and very few facilities in this country have the capability.
And so, EPS remains in the environment. Like most plastics, it does not biodegrade, but instead slowly breaks down into small fragments known as microplastics. Studies suggest items made from EPS foam can take thousands of years to decompose, contaminating soil and water in the meantime.
By contrast, in line with the PALLITE® ethos, EcoLITE has been designed from the beginning with end-of-life considerations in mind. The use of recycled paper and water-based glue ensures all EcoLITE products are 100% recyclable at the kerbside. The recycling rate for paper in the UK is one of the highest at 80% and PALLITE® believes in only working with clients that share its passion for taking concerted action to protect the environment through re-use, recycling and reduction of waste.
Why switch to paper packaging?
There are few limits to what you can do with paper and cardboard packaging. Want your packaging to transform into a point-of-purchase display? Need to protect fragile components or delicate fresh fruit and vegetables during transit? It can do both.
Ethically-sourced paper is a sustainable, renewable resource that is significantly better for the environment than polystyrene and foam. In the UK, more than 80% of paper is recycled by end users and used to make new products, saving energy, reducing water pollution and lowering air pollution.
CONSUMERS PREFER IT
A Paper and Packaging Board (PPB) survey found 71% were more likely to buy from brands that packaged their products in paper or cardboard. The ‘unboxing’ trend on social media is testament to the power of paper-based packaging to create a positive user experience equivalent to the pleasure gained from shopping in-store.