As consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious, packaging manufacturers are exploring more sustainable solutions. Here is a look at some of the most ecofriendly packaging materials available today.
Molded Fiber Packaging
Molded fiber packaging, also known as molded pulp or molded paper pulp, is one of the most eco-friendly options. It is made from recycled paper fibers that are molded into shape using water and heat. Molded fiber packaging does not use plastic, making it fully biodegradable and compostable. Many types can be recycled through municipal recycling programs as well. Because the molded paper pulp is rigid but lightweight, it protects products well during shipping. Companies like Eco-Products and Huhtamaki make molded fiber packaging in various shapes and sizes to suit different product needs.
Another excellent choice are biodegradable boxes made from renewable resources like sugarcane, bamboo or trees. They are comparable to corrugated cardboard boxes but are certified compostable. Some brands to look for include Eco-Packaging, Biosphere and Eco-Products. Like molded fiber, biodegradable boxes decompose back into nature without harming the environment. They also provide good cushioning and durability for shipping.
Plant-based materials like agricultural byproducts, tree pulp and sugarcane are increasingly being used to create eco-packaging solutions. One example is molded paper pulp made from renewable wood fibers or agricultural residue. Packnwood creates packaging like clamshells and boxes using sugarcane fibers. Treepax produces protective packaging peanuts from corn starch. These types of plant-based packaging are all biodegradable and compostable.
Recycled Plastic Options
While not as renewable as plant-based or paper-based materials, recycled plastic offers a more sustainable alternative to new plastic. Post-consumer recycled HDPE and PET plastic can be molded into durable packaging like totes, crates and pallet wraps. Pairing these plastics with renewable content increases their eco-friendliness. Look for a high recycled plastic content and check that items are recyclable wherever possible.
Other Eco Packaging Types
Additional ecofriendly packaging materials gaining popularity include bamboo, seaweed-based bioplastics, recycled glass, mushroom packaging made from mycelium and water-based waxpaper. Choosing locally sourced materials, bulk packaging to minimize individual units and packaging made from renewable/recycled content typically lessens the environmental impact the most.
Overall, the eco-packaging options with the least environmental footprint are molded fiber, biodegradable boxes and plant-based materials that can fully decompose without harming the earth or marine life.