What Packaging Materials are Biodegredable?

The UK has recently announced its plans of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050, under the government’s new plan to tackle climate change. Britain is the first major nation to have proposed this target, perhaps after increasing pressures from demonstration groups such as the extinction rebellion and it has been praised by green groups all over the country and beyond. This notion of “net zero” means that any emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will need to be avoided, or in the more difficult scenarios, offset by planting trees or ridding the atmosphere of CO2. It’s thought that if other countries follow suit, the world has a much better chance of staying below the 1.5C temperature rise which is recommended by experts in the field, a target many thought of as impossible just a few weeks ago.

The planet

This development means that it is more important than ever to change our own lifestyles and habits to accommodate a greener way of living. Finding environmentally-friendly products has never been easier and even industries that were once thought of as negatively in terms of their impact on the planet are doing their bit. One of these fields is packaging, with many green alternatives flooding the market already, growth and technology in this area is only going to gain more and more momentum in the next few years.

Concerns about the amount of packaging used to protect food and other non-food items has long-since been a concern for many, particularly when said packaging is not strictly necessary and is made from materials that will never decompose. Despite the recent progress of Morrison’s introducing plastic free aisles for fruit and vegetables, the industry still has a long way to go to change the more traditional methods of production and protection for the better and alter the negative perceptions that are still held by many. Here at Kempner, we know a thing or two about packaging, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to better inform our fantastic customers of what is biodegradable and what isn’t in the wonderful world of packaging, helping you to make more green choices in both business and leisure-based activities.

“Biodegradable” Plastic

There are some manufacturers out there that are willing to mislead consumers with claims that their plastic shrink wrap films is biodegradable, when such a thing simply does not exist at this time. We love the greener way of life and will take any steps we can to make our services as environmentally-friendly as possible, but what we’re not willing to do is lie to our valued customers. Biodegradable by simple definition means that a product must decompose in natural conditions, and shrink wrap, at the moment, does not have the ability to do so. However, that’s not to say you can’t make more green decisions when you are purchasing shrink wrap and still lessen your impact on the planet. We advocate that the most responsible approach is to minimise film thickness, which in turn will minimise resource uptake. We have a range of materials that are both thinner and stronger than other more conventional materials, which we would be delighted to introduce to you. For more on this, check out our recent blog post, Is Shrink Wrap Film Recyclable in the UK? Rest-assured, we have our finger on the pulse in this area and should there be a time that completely biodegradable shrink film becomes available, we’ll be at the forefront of their introduction.

Paper and Cardboard

Whilst paper and cardboard may not be suitable for every product, particularly those with a cause for hygiene, it is good to use these materials where you can thanks to their ability to be reused and recycled. In essence, if you are choosing between two products, one of which is packaged with paper and cardboard and the other protected by unrecyclable materials, it’s a good idea to choose the former, particularly if it doesn’t affect your overall usage or enjoyment of the product. This is less applicable in relation to businesses and your own packaging needs, whereby safety concerns may require a more reliable protection such as shrink wrap but think about your general office supplies such as paper, envelopes and even office refreshments. Embarking upon a greener way of life does not happen overnight and even the smallest of changes to your usual orders will make a world of difference in the long run.

Corn Starch

One of the few packaging alternatives that is biodegradable, corn starch is best used for items that have a limited or one-time use, such as takeaway food containers. Usually, single-use items are a big red flag for sustainability, but the degradable capabilities of corn starch mean that it has a limited negative impact and is probably one of the most eco-conscious variations of this kind of plastic. Keep abreast of the packaging used by your local takeaways, supermarkets and festivals to ensure you continue to pursue a greener way of life.

That concludes our guide to which packaging materials are and are not biodegradable and how you can make more green choices in this area to do your bit for the net zero movement. It’s important to remember that just a few small lifestyle choices can make a noticeable difference to the bigger picture and it’s now more important than ever to make greener choices wherever possible. If you have any concerns over your current PVC shrink wrap film or would like to discuss our most environmentally-friendly options for businesses, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Kempner today who would be more than happy to help.

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