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PACKAGING MATERIALS

Sustainable packaging is the development and use of packaging which results in improved sustainability. At the end stage of design it involves increased use of life cycle inventory (LCI) and life cycle assessment (LCA) [2][3] to help guide the use of packaging which reduces the environmental impact and ecological footprint, but in the very first steps requires a look at the whole of the supply chain: from basic function, to marketing, and then through to end of life (LCA) and rebirth.[4] The goals are to improve the long term viability and quality of life for humans and the longevity of natural ecosystems. Sustainable packaging must meet the functional and economic needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable packaging is a relatively new addition to the environmental considerations for packaging (see Packaging and labeling). It requires more analysis and documentation to look at the package design, choice of materials, processing, and life cycle. This is not just the vague "green movement" that many businesses and companies have been trying to include over the past years. Companies implementing these eco-friendly actions are reducing their carbon footprint, using more recycled materials, reusing more package components, etc. They often encourage suppliers, contract packagers, and distributors to do likewise.

For example, researchers at the Agricultural Research Service are looking into using dairy-based films as an alternative to petroleum-based packaging. [1] Instead of being made of synthetic polymers, these dairy-based films would be composed of proteins such as casein and whey, which are found in milk. The films would be biodegradable and offer better oxygen barriers than synthetic, chemical-based films. More research must be done to improve the water barrier quality of the dairy-based film, but advances in sustainable packaging are actively being pursued.[6]

Environmental marketing claims on packages need to be made (and read) with caution. Ambiguous titles such as green packaging and environmentally friendly can be confusing without specific definition. Some regulators, such as the US Federal Trade Commission, are providing guidance to packagers [7]

Companies have long been reusing and recycling packaging when economically viable. Using minimal packaging has also been a common goal to help reduce costs. Recent years have accelerated these efforts based on social movements, consumer pressure, and regulation.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
             
 
             
 
             
 
 
 
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