Greening the Future: Innovative Packaging Alternatives to Combat Pollution

By Guest Contributor Pauline Cruz

Consumer preferences and corporate practices have evolved in recent years because of the pressing need to address environmental concerns. Packaging is a critical concern (at least it should be) for businesses because of its environmental impact and pollution from the non-biodegradable and questionably recyclable materials from which most packaging is produced.

Due to its affordability, durability, and low weight, plastic packaging has exploded in the past century—especially in the post-war Great Acceleration of the 1950s. Sadly, this has led to a global waste problem.

Plastics are one of the most significant sources of global pollution and environmental degradation. Plastics have invaded every aspect of our environment, from the global hydrological cycle to our internal metabolism—plastic is everywhere.

Innovations in Sustainable Packaging

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Forward-thining businesses are developing green alternatives that promote sustainable packaging solutions focused on a circular economy.

Following are six innovative packaging alternatives to combat pollution and embrace a green future.

Corrugated Bubble Wrap

We all know bubble wrap is a favorite among kids and adults. This type of packaging helps to protect fragile objects during transit. But because it’s plastic, bubble wrap is not environmentally friendly. The good news is that several eco-friendly alternatives are available to lessen the impact.

One example is corrugated bubble wrap, a packaging made from recycled corrugated cardboard. Rather than disposing of post-consumer cardboard, it’s given additional life as a cushioning agent for fragile items. Like bubble wrap, it has small cuts to create a concertina-like effect that absorbs shocks.

Cornstarch Packages

Cornstarch is an organic material that has gained popularity in the environmentally friendly packaging industry. Because of its plastic-like qualities and maize or corn plant feedstock, corn starch is a viable substitute for plastic in various applications, including bottles, molded forms, and loose-film packaging.

Although cornstarch is a more sustainable packaging material than petroleum-based materials, it is not without issues. Maize grains are the feedstock for cornstarch packaging, which impacts food production and risks driving up the cost of corn. These are essential considerations before employing cornstarch packaging at scale.

Mushroom Packaging

Mushroom packaging goes through cleaning and grinding agricultural waste to generate mushroom packaging, welding it by a matrix of mushroom roots, or mycelium. It is possible to mold this raw material into the required shape. After drying, businesses can now use it to package items.

Since agricultural waste is just that—waste—neither humans nor animals can consume it as food. As a result, this material stays clear of any potential problem with cornstarch packing. Furthermore, this material spontaneously degrades quickly and is devoid of petroleum. Composting mushroom packaging at home produces non-toxic, organic debris. However, this packaging option is now limited to smaller items.

Edible Film

Edible films are sustainable packaging solutions in the food industry. This packaging may simplify food preparation, storage, and transportation. Edible films can lessen chemical leaching from plastic coats and reduce food and packaging waste.

While there are other natural ingredients businesses can utilize to make edible packaging, chitosan is the most popular and efficient option. The chitin shells of shrimp and other crustaceans make the sugar known as chitosan. As a result, behind cellulose, chitosan is one of the most prevalent biopolymers.

If you operate in the food sector, consider using edible film packaging instead of plastics to protect and package your food products before distribution.

Organic Ecological Textiles

Because ecological textile packaging is a resilient, multi-use material, it will add value for your consumers while reducing waste in your supply chain. For example, you may create textile covers that can be used again as furniture surface protectors or reusable bags to replace disposable bags.

The market offers a wide range of organic textiles, such as hemp, tapioca, recycled or organic cotton, palm leaves, and more. Since these components are biodegradable, their natural breakdown will occur more quickly. Pure linen, for example, takes two weeks to break down. Comparatively, the degradation of plastic bags takes 10,000 years. Again, plastics break down into microplastics that enter food chains and harm human health and wildlife.

Air Pillows from Recycled Content

An inflatable air pillow is another fantastic low-cost and environmentally friendly substitute for bubble wrap or Styrofoam. They come in various sizes and are perfect for giving boxed things some padding or filling in gaps in boxes.

Because air pillows are little bags that you can inflate, the primary material inside of them is air. Compared to alternative cushioning materials, this reduces the amount of plastic consumed in production and transportation.

Again, air pillows are recyclable, biodegradable, and reusable. However, look for air pillows that prioritize biodegradability and are composed entirely of recycled materials.

Final Thoughts

Globally, creative businesses are producing fresh solutions to combat the plastic crisis. Innovations like air pillows made of biodegradable material, bubble wrap from recycled content, and mushroom packaging are in use today.

These sustainable packaging concepts, which to some seemed absurd initially, now open the door to long-lasting transformation. By applying the suggestions above, you will become one of the many business owners who embrace the green movement to guarantee a brighter future for all.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

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