According to the study of the flexible packaging manufacturer IMMER Group, environmental friendliness of packaging is one of the 5 most important properties of packaging for more than a third (36%) of Latvians. The most important thing for Latvians is that the packaging is easy to use — as indicated by the majority of respondents, or 55.6%. It is also important that it opens and closes well (41%), does not contain hazardous substances (40%) and protects the product from contamination (36%).
Those who choose the friendliness of packaging in relation to the environment when choosing a product should take into account such factors as logistics, raw materials used in the production of a certain type of packaging, as well as suitability for processing and decomposition rate. Sometimes the usual types of packaging, which we are accustomed to consider harmful to the environment, can be much more friendly. For example, flexible packaging used for milk, cottage cheese, coffee, nuts and a wide range of other products is considered to be non-ecological, because it decomposes poorly, although this is not always the case.
Environmental friendliness is a complex issue that is not limited to the rate of decomposition of the material or ease of processing. Here we need a much more detailed approach and analysis of the situation from different points of view.
Production. Cardboard bags and packaging, which are considered environmentally friendly, are far from being harmless. The production of a paper bag requires four times more energy than the production of its polyethylene equivalent. Moreover, for the production of raw materials, a huge number of trees are being cut down, which, as is known, are restored for quite some time. Another negative environmental factor in the production of paper bags and packaging is a large amount of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Can plastic bags be environmentally friendly? The answer is yes. “Already now, environmentally friendly film packages are being offered to Latvian retail chains that have received European OK COMPOST certificates confirming that this material can be composted in domestic or industrial conditions. Another issue is the willingness of retailers to show social responsibility and use alternative solutions,” says Irina Mirochnik, President of the IMMER Group.
Degradation. Modern man produces more and more garbage — according to forecasts, by 2050 the volume of garbage will grow by 81%. In this regard, world leaders declare a "war" to waste, seeking to maximize recycling or disposal, as well as the production of biodegradable materials. However, the proportion of disposable plastic among the garbage is steadily increasing, and it needs to find a replacement. Biofilms for packaging have already been developed and are available, which decompose to CO2, water and humus in only 6-12 months (depending on their thickness). The novelty has received European certificates “OK COMPOST HOME” and “OK COMPOST INDUSTRIAL”, confirming that this material can be composted in domestic or industrial conditions. Thus, plastic packaging and bags can decompose quickly, not only without causing harm, but even benefiting nature.
Logistics. Production and processing — this is not all: no less acute is the issue of logistics. How to reduce the number of used trucks and trucks, and hence the volume of harmful emissions? “Solving this problem has several positive effects. First, fuel consumption and associated emissions are reduced. While we are not moved to electric cars, it is of great importance. Secondly, it is possible to use labor more efficiently - after all, instead of 10 drivers, only one can be used. Thirdly, the load on the city streets is reduced — especially during rush hour. Someone struggling with this problem, prohibiting or significantly increasing the cost of entry into the city center, however, such an unconventional way to deal with heavy traffic, like a good choice of packaging for their products, can be very effective, "says the President of the IMMER Group," 1,000 kg of red sauce can be packed in glass bottles, which themselves weigh 837 kg, in polymer bottles (96 kg) or in flexible packaging that weighs 42 kg — that is, almost 20 times less than glass containers. In each case, the level of material and environmental losses will be fundamentally different - and clearly not in favor of the glass considered more environmentally friendly. Not only weight is important, but also the volume of packaging - empty glass containers, which would occupy 2.6 m3 of storage space, in the case of replacement with flexible packaging will take only 0.042 m3. To transport such a quantity of empty glass containers, 26 trucks are needed, and using flexible packaging, only 1”.
Those who pay attention to the friendliness of packaging in relation to nature, should take into account many factors when choosing a particular product.