Waste Bans and What They Mean for the CPG and Secondary Packaging Industries

Published May 29, 2020

Environmental activism has been an especially hot topic across the CPG and manufacturing industries as of late—Greta Thunberg’s campaigns against large companies contributing to global warming being just one recent example. While climate change has undoubtedly been at the forefront of these campaigns, there’s another important issue developing on an increasingly international level that manufacturers and packagers need to watch: pollution and waste bans.

For instance, Massachusetts recently implemented several waste ban orders meant to promote the environmental benefits of recycling. These bans will no doubt affect retail, hospitality, medical, and educational facilities, as well as residents of Massachusetts as individuals. We imagine that other states will be following suit in hopes of reducing plastic usage statistics nationwide.

It doesn’t just end there—things are heating up on an international level, too. China is no longer importing plastic waste, which has led to a complete restructuring of its waste management system. And at the end of January, the UK outlawed shipping plastic waste to developing countries, intending to protect poorer nations.

How Will Waste Bans Affect the CPG and Secondary Packaging Industries?

The consumer packaged goods and secondary packaging industries rely heavily on both plastic and cardboard. How will these industries adapt when waste is—how shall we put it?—their bread and butter?

Many present-day manufacturers are seeking to develop sustainable packaging materials as well as cut down on waste created on the job. Take a look at some of the most recent sustainability developments below.

Alternative Packaging and Recycling

Companies like PepsiCo are cutting down on plastics by adopting both alternative packaging and recycled content. By 2025, they aim to make 100 percent of their packaging recyclable, “which equates to the elimination of 2.5 million metric tons of cumulative virgin plastic.”

Obviously, a large company like PepsiCo cutting down on its plastic use is going to have an extreme impact. But what exactly do we mean by “alternative packaging?” Essentially, we’re describing packaging options that are considered more environmentally friendly than plastic. Biopolymers, for example, are synthetics used in manufacturing—and for our purposes, for creating packaging materials. A common example of this is cellophane, which can be used to send the most fragile goods out for shipment.

Plant-based packaging is also currently in the works. It’s a more carbon-efficient way of making plastic, rather than using oil-based polymers. PepsiCo is “currently looking for ways to scale [this] technology,” but we imagine we’ll be hearing quite a bit about plant-based shipping containers soon.

Other Examples of Alternative Packaging

What are some ways that you, as a business or an individual, can make use of alternative packaging methods? We’ve compiled a list of several packaging alternatives that some companies are beginning to use or have even been using. This list is by no means extensive, but these are some of our favorites.

Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

When it comes to loose-fill packaging, this is the environmentally-conscious alternative to Styrofoam. The keyword here is biodegradable—these packing peanuts protect your goods in the same way Styrofoam would, without breaking down and lingering for years in the environment.

Recycled Cardboard and Paper

Cardboard boxes are an industry standard for a reason, and we aren’t suggesting you do away with them!. But as long as you’re using these materials, you might as well be sure they’re sustainably-sourced by opting for recycled paper and cardboard. And you’re in luck: they are two of the most frequently and easily-recyclable materials available.

Not sure your materials make the cut? If they are marked as FSC-certified, they’re sourced from sustainably-managed forests. In other words, you’re good to go.

Corrugated Bubble Wrap

This eco-friendly alternative consists of up-cycled corrugated cardboard (which you’ve no doubt heard us talk about in many blog posts). Meaning that, rather than disposing of your corrugated packaging materials after you’ve used them, your customers can repurpose it as a different, but just as effective, type of packaging. There isn’t any polyethylene material being used here, which means you won’t get to pop those bubbles the way you would with plastic bubble wrap—but hey, it’s a small price to pay, right?

INSITE: Your Partners in Packaging Automation

Times are changing, and you’ll want your current packaging automation partner to be on top of any trends that end up lasting. We’ll work with you to supply streamlined, efficient machinery that will keep your production line running smoothly.

Here at INSITE, we make sure to stay up-to-date on both the latest packaging trends and how new policies are affecting our industry. Our case erectors and case sealers are smart, simple, and above all, will allow you to keep your packaging process running smoothly. Contact us today to get a quote.

Share Post