Plastic packaging tends to sometimes get a bad press compared to other materials, such as cardboard, which is widely perceived as being more cost-effective and kinder to the environment. However, as George Utz are seeing, this trend is rapidly being reversed as more companies realise the longer term benefits of using high quality, reusable plastic packaging such as boxes, containers, pallets and trays, in line with their environmental policies.
Recent research has shown that using plastic packaging can actually reduce s waste and increase s efficiency. A recent German study showed that without plastic packaging there would be large increases in packaging weight, energy consumption and waste volumes, as shown in the diagram below:
In fact, George Utz believes that plastics have a far better environmental profile than cardboard. The plastic manufacturing process is both efficient and eco-friendly. It generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than cardboard manufacture or recycling, and uses less fossil fuel. Just 4% of the world’s total oil production is used to make plastics.
George Utz’s plastic products have a much longer working life than their cardboard equivalents, often lasting 8-12 years, after which the plastic can be 100% recycled. On the other hand, all the wood used to make cardboard packaging will eventually end up as solid waste or be incinerated, even if it is recycled several times first. During an average 10 year lifespan, just one of our reusable high quality plastic crates can replace around 400-500 cardboard boxes.
What’s more, in a fast-moving and highly automated environment, it is often not feasible to re-use cardboard packaging. It’s becoming more expensive to dispose of used cardboard as well as buy new packaging, so choosing a plastic container than can be reused, potentially for many years, is a far more economical option.
Plastic packaging – facts and figures
• If other materials were used instead of plastic to package goods, then waste and energy consumption would double, and weights and costs would quadruple.
• 21.8% of all plastic packaging in the UK is recycled.
• On average, 10 times more energy is used to produce the contents that the packaging contains, than to actually make the packaging itself.
• Due to its low weight, less fuel is used to transport plastic packaging – giving it a lower carbon footprint than alternative materials such as cardboard or wood.