Most everyone knows these days that if you want to be green, reduce your carbon footprint, and try to preserve the planet, you have to recycle. Recycling has existed in some form at least since the time of Plato, with a recent uptick in popularity over the past 25 years, and involves reusing or reconstituting used materials in favor over using new raw materials. So, by the court of waste management and public opinion, that means that recycling is the best way to create packaging and as a part of food processing equipment, right?
Interestingly, the food packaging industry has recently found that flexible packaging might actually be the way to go in the future. Flexible packaging as already been in the industry for years, and you more than likely have flexible packaging for foodstuffs or other products in your home … they’re even starting to use it in robotics. Such packaging is what it sounds like: wrappers of several varieties that aren’t rigid and whose shape can change, which are most often made from plastic.
For example, just in terms of food processing, flexible packages are bags of bread, bags of ice, water bottles, vacuum wrap on meat and poultry, shrink film, and many more. The demand for flexible packaging as a part of food processing equipment has grown dramatically, as it is responsible for the packaging for almost 60% of retail and institutional food, and plastics recruiters employ almost 80,000 people directly. So how does this several hundred billion dollar industry become better for the environment than recycling?
- Lower CO2 Emissions than Recycling. While many think that recycled aluminum cans and recycled glass jars are the height of green living, it might surprise you to know that flexible packaging is a far greener packaging product. The CO2 emissions for flexible packaging are a third of the emissions for aluminum, and a mere 10% of that for glass.
- Lower Contribution to Landfill than Recycling. For every 100 grams of landfill, 58 grams of that has been found to be glass and glass food jars, studies show. For that same 100 grams, only 2.8 grams are from flexible packaging in that same study.
- Lower Energy Consumption than Recycling. If you took the same amount of glass jars and flexible packaging, and had to transport them both, it would take 26 times the amount of trucks to move the same amount of glass jars as it would flexible packaging. That’s a lot more fuel consumption for the food processing equipment divisions.
- Uses Fewer Resources than Recycling. Studies found that when packaging the same amount of a beverage, such as 60 pounds of juice, it would take nearly 50 times the amount of glass than it would to package it with flexible packaging. That’s a lot more material handling.