APackaging Group (APG), a US-based cosmetics packaging manufacturer, is offering tips to help the public recognize truly sustainable packaging – and explains common pitfalls.
The use of eco-friendly, sustainable materials is of growing importance as we try to reduce our impact on the environment – and this has resulted in a high demand for sustainable packaging as well. Many brands have taken action to make their packaging sustainable, but others are simply trying to capitalize on this demand through ‘greenwashing’: misleadingly branding packaging as sustainable, counting on the fact most members of the public won’t be able to tell the difference.
Company spokesperson Hannah Palese said: “Greenwashing is particularly insidious. It capitalizes on people’s good intentions and desire for eco-friendly materials without actually making any changes. With many consumers willing to pay extra for sustainable packaging, it’s easy to see why misleading labels are so common. They are a problem particularly on packaging made of two different materials, as one may be recyclable or even compostable – but if the other material is not, then it’s not as eco-friendly as it claims to be.”
One example is the symbol indicating the recyclability of packaging. One may assume that the presence of the symbol means the material is fully recyclable, but it is important to pay attention to the codes, which specify whether the materials can actually be recycled at all, and if so, how easily. A common way to mislead the public is printing a statement saying that the materials are fully recyclable while the code indicates otherwise. The assumption is that members of the public won’t notice the discrepancy as they are not aware of the meaning of different numbers and codes.
Plastic packaging accounts for nearly 70% of all plastic waste in the UK, but according to research by Greenpeace less than 10% of plastic gets recycled. Becoming familiar with different standards and codes is the best way to avoid being misled into contributing to the problem.
And while the materials making up the packaging are important, there are other factors to keep in mind as well.
She added: “The public should also ask themselves, where and how is the packaging material produced? Does the manufacturer use green energy? If the material is produced using highly polluting energy sources, and then shipped halfway across the world for use, then the entire process may just negate the benefits of using eco-friendly materials and the packaging is not all that sustainable after all.”
For more information on sustainable packaging, visit: www.apackaginggroup.com