Green-er Packaging Materials
Health Pak has the ability to offer you the latest packaging materials that offer environmental advantages over standard flexible packaging. We can work with you to decide what are the best options for your product and talk you through the different pros and cons of each. In the details below we have also attempted to give you a basic introduction to some of the more popular or well-known types of packaging that claim to be more environmentally friendly, so that you can have a bit of background before contacting us.
Ultimately the key issue to bear in mind is there is no single packaging solution that will necessarily be right for every product. The best option for you is dependent on your own individual product and its requirements. In basic terms this encompasses the way the product is used and most importantly the way in which the product will be disposed.
The other thing to bear in mind is that there is no set standard, guideline or law that tells us what to us and so its up to you to undertake due diligence to make sure you are doing the right thing. That’s where we can come into play with nearly 70 years’ experience. We will work with you to determine the best packaging option for your product.
Our Goal – “To help provide functional packaging, that reduces the impact on the environment as much as possible, within the place in which it is used and disposed”.
Commonly Used Film Options
In the last 10 years one type of film that has been very commonly used and promoted as more environmentally friendly is called “oxo-degradable”. While mostly used in flexible films, it can also be used in rigid plastics such as bottles and tubes. This film is still very common in the marketplace and has varying claims from degradable to 100% biodegradable on the packaging.
Essentially oxo-degradable films are made from conventional plastics but have an additive which enables the film to “break down” in conditions where there is light and oxygen. The rate at which it degrades depends in part on the amount of additive within it and the environment in which it is disposed. The additive causes the film to fragment into tiny pieces which it concludes is therefore degrading.
There is currently an enormous amount of debate as to the benefits of this type of additive and our current stance is that we do not recommend its use. Many argue that almost all these films will end up in landfill where in most cases light and oxygen don’t exist, and therefore it will not degrade anyway. There is also further debate, that even when it does degrade, the tiny pieces it breaks into will cause more issues in the soil and waterways than if it remained intact.
Biodegradable films differ from the oxo-degradable films above in that rather than simply breaking down into tiny fragments or pieces, the additive they use generally attracts the natural microorganisms that exist in conditions like in landfill, to process and dispose the film, the same way as if it were organic waste. While this form of packaging is not diverting waste from landfill, in situations where there is no ability to recycle or compost, this form of packaging is a very viable option for many as opposed to conventional films.
Compostable films are becoming more and more prevalent in the marketplace as a way of diverting packaging from landfill, and as a cleaner way of breaking down compared to many other degradables. While we currently believe this is the option of the future, unfortunately within NZ currently there are very few commercial composting stations to dispose of this packaging in the manner required. It is also important to note that if compostable packaging goes into a domestic rubbish bin or recycle bin it won’t get composted and will end up in landfill, where it won’t break down. There however are some films designed to work in a home composting bin and if you can offer a commercial composting option for your client, then this is a great alternative to conventional films.
Bioplastic films are films made from plant or other biological material like sugar or corn (PLA) instead of petroleum. It is also often called bio-based plastic. Many bioplastics can be commercially compostable, but not all. The argument in favour of bioplastics is that it is a more renewable resource and a better option than oil-based plastics. Recently some studies however have stated that they have concerns over a viable food source being used for packaging in what is becoming a very food-scarce world. Its an extremely subjective issue and there are strong proponents either side. This is an example of how in some cases it can be an individual judgement call as to what is the best packaging option for your product.
There is a big misconception in the marketplace of what “recyclable” means. Ultimately any film can be recycled if there is somewhere to recycle it. The issue currently however for all films, is that there is no domestic means of recycling available, and so ultimately, they will end up in landfill. We can however point you in the direction of films that are more readily able to be recycled. Some retail outlets and organizations have recently set up their own collection points for certain films, which then organize the product to be recycled and reused. We can talk you through this, however ultimately if you cant provide a means of recycling, then the film will not be recyclable.
Ultimately Health Pak is committed to working with you to provide what is the best option for your product. We do not affiliate ourselves with any one brand or packaging type and we are happy to look at what option best suits your product or application.