Plastic: A Valuable Part of the Circular Economy
The issue of plastic waste is one that should absolutely be addressed. However, treating it in isolation and eradicating plastic as a knee-jerk reaction without looking at the bigger picture could in fact lead to negative and unintended consequences across the supply chain.
For example, if online retailers were to all move away from lightweight polythene mailing bags and replace them with cardboard boxes, it would significantly increase the number of pallets of stock required for the same number of packages - and therefore lead to more vehicles, more road miles and more CO2 emissions.
The fact is that plastic is resource-efficient, flexible, hygienic, durable and lightweight - and other materials available don't match those functional properties. Instead of getting rid of this valuable material from the supply chain, we need to take a holistic view and find ways to make packaging more sustainable, design it in a way that makes it reusable, and improve the infrastructure for it to be easily recycled on a national scale. Let’s get started:
GreenPE - plastic derived from sugarcane, is a renewable resource and, in the application of mailing bags, is chemically identical to regular plastic. It has the exact same properties as traditional polyethylene and can be recycled the same way, but avoids the use of finite fossil fuels. What's more, sugarcane absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, helping to reduce global warming.
Make it reusable. When it comes designing mailing bags, one of the pioneering improvements is the addition of a second glue strip. This means that when a customer wants to return unwanted items, they can use the same bag their order came in to send them back, without the need for additional packaging items. They simply pop the items back in the bag and use the second glue strip to seal.
Close the loop. While there are limitations when it comes to end consumers recycling their plastic mailing bags - we've made great strides on the industrial side. With our closed-loop recycling scheme, we're working with retailers to help segregate their waste plastic, recycle this and use the recycled material to produce new products. This keeps valuable plastic in the economy and out of the environment plus reduces dependency on finite resources.
Featured in Retail Packaging Magazine. Read the full article here