Is compostable plastic the future of sustainable packaging?

Compostable plastic bag

Is compostable plastic the future of sustainable packaging?

With the fashion industry’s use of packaging responsible for 26% of global plastic production each year, it’s obvious that a more sustainable solution is essential.

There is also increased pressure from consumers who are demanding change, resulting in new legislation against single-use plastics. Creativity and innovation from brands, along with cooperation from both the public and private sectors, is the key to making a real difference.

What effort is being made by brands?

The main efforts by fashion brands so far include encouraging consumers to recycle, providing reusable bags, replacing plastic packaging with paper, and manufacturing packaging and bags made from recycled plastic.

While it’s positive that brands are trying to do something, many of these efforts fall short of actually making a difference.

Fashion blogs are abuzz with the seemingly endless ways consumers can reuse brands’ plastic bags to ship their products. But even if a plastic bag is used multiple times, it still never really goes away and will stay with us – like all plastics – for hundreds of years. It eventually breaks down, turning into microplastic that pollutes our soil, seas and even the human body, presenting severe ecological damage and health threats.

Recycling is also not the solution many consumers and brands hope it will be.

Only about 8% of flexible plastic – the material usually used for shipping goods – actually makes its way to recycling programmes; the rest is not recycled due to contamination and poor economic motivations. It is often cheaper to produce new plastic than to recycle old items, and many items made from recycled plastic require new plastic as well.

In addition, although cloth and paper bags are often beautiful and feel “natural,” they are not ideal solutions as they require the use of trees, high volumes of water, and involve a polluting manufacturing process. From a practical point of view, they also do not sufficiently keep goods clean and dry during the shipping process.

compostable bags

Compostable plastic is a sustainable packaging solution

A long-overlooked but growing solution to the plastic problem is to use compostable bags and packaging.

Composting organic waste dates back to many ancient civilisations, as far back as the Neolithic period including the Egyptians and Greeks. Composting has always been a way to increase soil health and crop yields. Today, with soil erosion and climate change, composting is even more critical – both to grow enough food for an expanding global population and reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses.

When items like leftover food, yard scraps and packaging materials are composted instead of landfilled, they prevent methane from being released into the environment.

As more brands consider compostable packaging, many of our clients have already moved towards this solution.

This type of packaging, which disintegrates into valuable agricultural compost when disposed of in compost facilities or in-home compost piles, can be used for shipping items to consumers, packaging items purchased in stores, and by a brands’ logistical team to store and ship materials and finished items all along the supply chain. Generally, compostable plastic is transparent and flexible, offering many of the same benefits as its traditional counterpart.

Brands that use compostable plastic need to make sure it has been tested and certified, along with clear instructions for consumers and other users about how and where to compost it. Compostable bags made correctly, are just as strong as traditional items, albeit with a shorter shelf life.

compostable bags

We can help you make the switch to sustainable packaging

The potential of compostable materials presents a significant opportunity for brands.

As overall composting rates grow, compostable packaging will become the ultimate solution – not just for reducing plastic pollution but for nourishing the earth.

By embracing sustainable packaging, the fashion industry has the potential to make a lasting impact on the environment.

We are already ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable packaging, helping our clients to turn their brands into greener, cleaner businesses.

If you would like to know more about how we can help you, then please don’t hesitate to contact us today or have a look at the sustainable solutions available on our website. One of our friendly and knowledgeable team members will be happy to have a quick chat about your sustainable packaging needs.