The most environmentally friendly food packaging

At-Home Packing Tips - October 31, 2019

The issue of the most environmentally friendly food packaging is the subject of many debates. While reusable plastic moving boxes are a great direction towards a green move, choosing suitable packaging for food is a bit tougher task. There are many things to consider: the life-cycle, transportation, energy to be made, and energy to be recycled. Unpackaged is always the best, but that’s not realistic. But there’s no need to stress out – this guide is here to help you choose.

How to determine what is the most environmentally friendly food packaging?

There’s no easy or universal answer to this question. Whether you will use cardboard boxes or plastic moving bins NYC for your relocation, or you didn’t even consider the footprint that your move will leave depends solely on your personal preferences. The same goes for choosing food packaging.

However, since you’re reading this article it is safe to consider that you do care about the environment and your role in its preservation.

Keep in mind – no matter what you opt for, there isn’t a wrong answer. Just by thinking about the preservation of even one environmental feature, you’re making a difference. There are people who couldn’t care to be bothered by even consider going green when food packaging is in the state.

The most common types of packaging

While there are some companies who make biodegradable and green food packing options, generally you will stumble upon the packaging made of the following materials:

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Glass

This guide is here to explain the features of each one, so you can choose the most suitable solution for you.

Paper packaging

While some are approving paper packaging, others are strongly against it. On the one hand, it is very easy to recycle or compost.
On the other, producing paper leaves a huge carbon footprint and requires high water usage.

The statistic shows alarming data that paper is the third or fourth-largest source of industrial greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries. Also, there are very few reliable ways to find out where paper packaging comes from.

That being said, there are plenty of products being offered that contain recycled paper. That fact does offset the need for new trees to be chopped down. Unfortunately, unless you specifically look for it, you will find it in less than 35% in most materials.

pizza box
The biggest issue is that paper packaging usually can’t be recycled if it has food on it.

Luckily, many companies who package their products in paper or cardboard are environmentally aware and do use recycled paper materials. Other businesses aren’t an exception either.  Capital City Bins, for example, is the s a moving bin rental NYC company where you can find the eco-friendly supplies necessary for the completely green move.

Considering everything, the final verdict will be that paper might be a good option for most people because it’s easily recyclable and compostable. More environmentally conscious people are avoiding it because its making process has a massive impact on the environment. If you do opt-out for this option, try to use it will be an eco-friendly solution only if you’re using it many times.

Glass as environmentally friendly food packaging

Glass can be a good food eco-packing. However, it’s not a very affordable option for families with multiple members. Supplies that come in this packaging are usually more expensive. Still, if you plan to keep it and reuse it, glass is a great choice.

The good side is that glass is infinitely recyclable. There’s no physical difference between the new one and recycled glass packaging. Plus, it’s non-reactive so you can use it in many ways after you purchase it.

The downside is its manufacturing process. Although it comes from naturally-occurring ingredients, mining of these substances has a detrimental effect on the environment. Plus, the heat necessary to create glass goes up to 2500C. Meaning the process of making glass is an energy-consuming project.

On the other hand, many studies are showing that glass packaging uses about half as much energy during its life cycle than the plastic or gable-top cartons.

So, the glass makes sense if you’re willing to reuse it. Even when you don’t want to use them as environmentally friendly food packaging any more, you can transform them into a plant container, or decoration.

Glass - one of the most most environmentally friendly food packaging
Glass food packaging is multi-practical and durable.

Can plastic be environmentally friendly food packaging?

Some people claim that plastic is a green option due to its recycling ability and because it takes less energy to produce. Also, some of the products by this material are very functional. For example, plastic bins have many purposes and you can use them for a long time. But what about plastic food packaging?

While recycling plastic packaging is viable in theory, the practice shows some different information. Let’s start with the fact that plastic packaging is partly derived from petroleum. This material is not infinitely recyclable, and never actually goes away.

There are many different types of plastics with various levels of impact. However, the most common ones are very harmful to the environment.

Plastic food packaging is mostly a single-use item, like soda bottles. People are discarding them by not giving much thought about what happens afterward. And the follow up is pretty grim – most plastic doesn’t end up in the recycling facilities.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2014 only 9.5% of the plastic material brought into the waste stream was recycled. While 15% was combusted for energy, the remaining 75.5% was sent to landfills.

The contamination of the environment doesn’t stop there. While the plastic can degrade into smaller and smaller pieces for long period of time, it never goes away completely. Its particles are entering the soil and waterways because this material does not biodegrade.

So, can plastic be environmentally friendly food packaging? The final verdict will be – no way. It is not a green option. However, if you do purchase plastic packaging, at least try to use it as much as possible before recycling.

While convenient, plastic packaging is the number one polluter.

Metal food packaging

Metal is a great choice if you plan to recycle it. As a very lucrative recycling material, it has a much lower chance of ending up in the landfill.
In fact, aluminum cans have more than three times the recycled content than estimated for glass or plastic.

What about steel or tin? They are mostly used for making vegetable or soup cans. Typically, products by these metals are easily recyclable. Numbers vary, but approximately 70-90% of steel cans are going through the recycling process yearly. This makes them one of the most recycling products.

However, reusing metal packaging isn’t very convenient. Opt for them if you’re planning to recycle since they’re cheap and infinitely recyclable.

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