Circular Packaging Explained

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circular packaging

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Circular packaging is a term used to describe the design of packaging with the intention of it being reused, recycled, or composted instead of thrown away.

This type of packaging is often seen as a more sustainable alternative to traditional packaging made from virgin materials that are only meant to be used once and then disposed of. Circular packaging can be made from various materials, including paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and even some plastics.

There are several reasons why circular packaging is gaining popularity as a more sustainable option.

It reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills or incinerated. It also consumes less energy and water to produce than traditional packaging and can help save trees and other natural resources. Circular packaging can also be recycled or composted, further reducing its environmental impact.

Today we dive into how it works, how companies are designing more sustainable packaging and some of the challenges in the transition to a full circular packaging economy.


Packaging and climate change

packaging and climate change

The average person generates 4.4 pounds of waste each day, and a large portion of this waste is the packaging. In fact, packaging accounts for more than 30% of all municipal solid waste in the United States.

Not only is this packaging a burden on landfills, but it also takes a toll on the environment. Packaging production requires energy and resources, and much of this packaging ends up in incinerators or as litter. As a result, packaging has a significant impact on climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions from packaging totaled nearly 1.1 billion metric tons in 2015, and this number is expected to rise in the coming years. Given the dangers of climate change, it is clear that we need to find ways to reduce our reliance on packaging.

One way to do this is to choose products with minimal packaging or recycle the packaging that we use. By making small changes in our everyday choices, we can help to make a big difference for the planet.


This side up

Circular packaging offers many benefits over traditional packaging. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it reduces the amount of waste in landfills or incinerated.

It’s more efficient to produce than traditional packaging, requiring less energy and water.

Additionally, circular packaging often contains recycled content, which helps conserve natural resources like trees. It can also be recycled or composted, further reducing its environmental impact.

Eco-friendly packaging tends to be more durable than traditional packaging. This means that you can often reuse it multiple times, further reducing waste and the need for new resources. As such, it’s typically less damaging to the environment when it is disposed of, as it will break down more quickly in landfills.

Circular packaging is an integral part of sustainable packaging and is essential for reducing the environmental impact of packaging materials. It is also a vital part of the circular economy, which is based on the principle of sustainability.

Overall, circular packaging is a more sustainable option than traditional packaging and has the potential to help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators. While it can be more expensive, the environmental benefits often outweigh the cost.


Are there downsides?

Circular packaging is often lauded as a more sustainable alternative to traditional packaging, but it comes with its own set of drawbacks and costs.

For one thing, circular packaging is often more expensive to produce since it requires specialized materials and manufacturing processes. Additionally, it can be challenging to recycle or repurpose once it has been used, often ending up in landfills.

Finally, because it is not as widely used as traditional packaging, there is often a lack of infrastructure to recycle or reuse it. As a result, circular packaging is not always the most sustainable option available.


Why it matters

why circular packaging matters

These days, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of sustainability. We’re starting to understand the significant impact our everyday choices have on the environment, and we’re beginning to look for ways to reduce our footprint. One simple way to do this is to choose products that come in circular packaging.

It’s designed to be reused or recycled rather than thrown away. This means that it has a much lower environmental impact than traditional packaging. For consumers, this is an important consideration when making purchase decisions. But it’s not just consumers who stand to benefit from circular packaging – businesses do too.

  • Using circular packaging can help businesses to save money and become more efficient. It also sends a positive message to customers, showing that the company is committed to sustainability.
  • Businesses are also looking for ways to be more circular by considering the entire life cycle of their products and packaging- from sourcing to production to distribution and finally to disposal.
  • Many companies are now using recycled content in their packagings– such as using post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic or paper.
  • Businesses are also increasingly offering reusable or recyclable packaging options to their customers.
  • Finally, some companies are even considering how their packaging can be reused or upcycled after it has served its initial purpose. For example, Tetra Pak is working on developing packaging that can be turned into paperboard once it has been used.

And, of course, the benefits extend to the environment as well. By choosing circular packaging, businesses and consumers can help to reduce pollution and conserve resources. So next time you’re shopping, keep an eye out for products in circular packaging – it’s a small change that can make a big difference.

Overall, circular packaging is a more sustainable option than traditional packaging.

  • Luke Rooks

    Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

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