Sustainability Made Simple With Packaging Automation

With a growing need for companies to accelerate their sustainability and social responsibility, it’s come as no surprise that 2020 has seen more and more businesses continuing to phase out the use of plastic packaging and introduce packaging automation. Just recently, Lego have stated that they are aiming for all packaging to be sustainable by 2025. Neils B Christiansen, CEO at Lego Group says,

 “It’s critical to take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations.”

Caring for the future is a mission that every business globally needs to adopt, not only because it’s important to value the planet, but you must ensure you don’t lose sight of your consumers values and the fundamental changes they come up against as a result of climate change.

Whilst the global coronavirus pandemic has taken hold, many retailers and other industries have recognised the need for automation across many departments, as would be expected due to the shortfall of workers and the urgent need for hygienic, sanitary processes to be in place.

But how can packaging automation help create a more sustainable process?

In terms of packaging, automating the process not only vastly improves the efficiency of your business by reducing the strain of your workforce and improving the quality of your packaging, right size packaging solutions will also decrease any waste. Not only this, your efficiency levels will be optimised as automated packaging means less reliance on workforce, as machines do not need a ‘break’.

Reducing packaging waste also means that if you do use plastic packaging for your items, this usage is kept to an absolute minimum. At Ribble, we preserve environmental resources by using 100% recycled and recyclable Fanfold for our automated packaging solutions.

Adopting a right size packaging solution to your business, does exactly what it says – you have the right size box to fit the product meaning no excess waste, leading to improved sustainability. It will size, construct, weigh and label each custom order to create the perfect package and eliminate the need for any fill material – saving you money on labour and reducing box volume for delivery.

Businesses who have incorporated our right-size packaging solution have saved 30% in packaging costs!

By having smaller packages for your products, you will also utilise available courier vehicle space better, which will in turn reduce the number of vehicles on the road, reducing your CO2 emissions and collectively making you a more sustainable business.

In celebration of Recycling Week 2020, we’re inviting you to a virtual demonstration of how right size solutions can make your packaging more sustainable. In just 15 minutes, you’ll learn how your business can go green. To register please visit https://ribble-pack.co.uk/campaigns/go-green-in-15.

Sustainable Packaging: The Must-Have Of 2020

Thanks to shows such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and activists like Greta Thunberg, the British public has become acutely aware of the damage plastic packaging is doing to our planet.

It’s no surprise, then, that according to a 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey, 90% of UK shoppers want easily recyclable packaging. 88% also want to know where their packaging comes from.

Unfortunately, plastic packaging isn’t easy to recycle. Businesses produce 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging every year; only 30% is recycled. The type of plastic is critical here.  For example, dark coloured plastic is harder to recycle. Recycling plants also reject food packaging that contains too much food waste. In response to public concern over plastic, last year the UK government set a goal of eliminating plastic waste by 2042. To reach this, much more plastic must be recycled.

With countries such as China turning away plastic for recycling, however, these targets may be hard to meet.  As a result, we need other solutions to meet environmental objectives and consumer demand, which is why it is so vital for businesses to look at sustainable packaging.

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging is packaging that has a reduced environmental impact. Generally, materials are recycled, biodegradable or reusable.  Examples include paper and cardboard as well as reusable plastic, or plastic that is biodegradable or made from plant products. In addition, companies can make packaging more sustainable by:

  • reducing the number of materials used
  • increasing fill-rates
  • using monomaterials (rather than laminates).  

Using sustainable packaging in a business

It’s no longer enough for a business to pay lip-service to environmental issues.  Nor is it to make promises they will make changes in the future. They need to act now, reflecting the values of today’s consumers and government legislation.

One of the main barriers to companies using sustainable packaging in the past has been price. There’s a belief that sustainability is expensive. However, this isn’t always the case. Changes to packaging design and engineering mean implementing sustainable packaging solutions is both possible and affordable. 

Remember, just because the packaging says it’s environmentally-friendly, doesn’t mean it is. So, as well as price, when looking to make the change to sustainable packaging, businesses should consider:

  • Ingredients: Does the packaging use 100% recycled materials, for example, or come from sustainable sources?
  • Production: What production methods are used? What is its carbon footprint, and what steps are in the supply chain? For example, there is much talk at the moment of bio-based plastics (also known as bio-plastics). Made from food crops such as corn and sugar cane, they seem like a good option and a great way to reduce the use of traditional plastic. However, some reports are now suggesting that their impact on the human food chain could be significant, leading to price increases or food shortages.
  • Recyclability: Can the packaging be recycled easily? Do local authorities accept it. Or, will customers have to source a specialist recycling centre (as they do not for products such as toothpaste tubes)?
  • Reusability: How many times can packaging be reused? This links into the circular economy, which is growing in popularity.

Where a business isn’t sure if the packaging is sustainable, they must ask questions and do their research, looking to organisations such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition or Forest Stewardship Council for guidance if needed.

What is the circular economy?

One of the major areas of discussion when it comes to sustainable packaging is the circular economy, a term that describes returning packaging for reuse for its original purpose. Examples of this might be refillable packaging, which has been trialled by companies such as Unilever, and means the packaging is used multiple times. Another example is seen in the rise of zero waste or zero packaging stores, which ask customers to bring their own containers.

This isn’t a new idea (milk was once delivered by a milkman, for example, and bottles returned). Instead, it is one coming back into favour. It has been successful with beauty products, personal care, and dried food goods. As the idea gains traction, businesses should think about how to use the circular economy for secondary packaging. This is packaging used to pack and move goods before they hit the shelves.

Packaging design

As big-name brands become more focused on sustainable packaging, consumers are seeing lots of different designs enter the market. Some of these are incredibly creative. H&M, for example, has created a bag that converts into a clothes hanger, making the bag reusable and removing the need for a plastic hanger. Plus, the bag contains 80% recycled materials, somethings shoppers want to see.

In creating a convertible bag, H&M are appealing to their target shopper, younger people aged 18 to 35. The 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey found over 50% of shoppers in this age group considered packaging when making a buying decision. With their bag, H&M is hoping to build brand loyalty as well as reduce their impact on the environment.

When a business is considering what type of sustainable packaging they want to use, they should think about their audience as well as the product being packaged. For example, Biotka produces soy candles. Their customers are looking for natural products that don’t harm the environment. Biotka has reflected this by making their packaging from recycled material and using a minimalist design.

And, as with H&M, businesses should think creatively, giving their customers something more than the product they’re buying. For example, Monday’s Child sells children’s clothing. Customers can reuse their clothing boxes as they convert into dolls houses. UAU is another company who use their packaging creatively. UAU produce 3D art. Their delivery boxes are designed to be used as display stands.

Making a move to sustainable packaging

When a business moves to sustainable packaging, it can be tempting to do so all at once. This isn’t always the answer, however, as it can be disruptive. Businesses must remember to:

  • Make the change gradually, especially if a business has a lot of different products. 

Start with a single line, make the changes and look at how well these work. Then move onto the next line.

  • Use all existing packaging first.

It’s been paid for and to not use it costs money.

It’s much better to do both at once rather than one at a time, which can be more costly and time-consuming.

  • Do research, ask questions, and order samples. 

This way, a business will know what they are buying and how likely it is to work for their product line. Business could also do a test run of packaging too, sending it out to some customers and asking for feedback before making a final decision.

  • Look at how the new packaging impacts the bottom line. 

This may lead to increased costs, which could be passed on to the consumer. A business must understand if their customers will be willing to pay for any increase.

  • Let customers know how sustainable their packaging is. 

Consumers are a key driver for businesses to use sustainable packaging, so don’t be afraid to let them know what’s been done. At the same time, customers may become more aware of a product’s environmental credentials if it comes in sustainable packaging. It is worth, therefore, looking at the products themselves and see how green they are and whether they can be made any more eco-friendly.

Finally, speak to experts in packaging design and development. They can help businesses understand what types of sustainable packaging will work for them. They can develop prototypes and samples and act as a sounding board for a company’s more creative ideas.

The future of packaging

With the shift in consumer focus to more environmentally friendly products and the move by governments around the world to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that ends up as waste, companies can’t afford to not invest in sustainable packaging.

With innovations in packaging design and engineering, this is now more affordable than ever. Which means businesses don’t have any excuse for not making the change. That said, they need to make that change carefully. They need to understand their audience and what they want to see in packaging. And they need to understand the best solutions out there for their business and the products they want to package and ship.

Thinking outside the box could be essential here, which means talking to industry experts to make sure the sustainable packaging a business buys meets their needs. This will also allow them to understand new development in packaging, meaning they can stay ahead of their competition when it comes to sustainability. This, in turn, can lead to increased loyalty from existing customers. In addition, it opens up a potential new customer base of consumers who want to reduce their environmental impact act much as possible.

Why You Need Custom Packaging for Your ecommerce Business

Over 75% of people in the UK bought goods or services online last year. This is a staggering figure considering the internet has only just turned twenty, but one that goes a long way to explaining how – in just two decades – we’ve become the world’s third largest ecommerce sector.

This means, however, that if you own an ecommerce business, you are working in a very crowded and increasingly competitive market, one that is constantly changing and requires you to change with it if you want to succeed.

So, whereas once upon a time, your customers were probably more than happy to receive their purchases in a plain brown box and surrounded by brown packaging paper, now they want something more.  Something, many of your competitors are probably already offering – custom packaging that turns ordering online from a simple transaction into an experience.

Packaging goes a long way to telling a customer who your company is and what you stand for.  It can show them you care about them, value their business and want them to buy from you again.   Or, it can show them you aren’t that bothered, that they are nothing more than a sale in a long line of sales and you wouldn’t miss them if they go.  Which is why custom packaging is so important and, if you don’t use it already, why you need to make it part of your plans for 2020.

How to make custom packaging work for your eCommerce business

If you want to make custom packaging work for your online business, you need to think about:

  1. Branding: While a plain brown box works just as well as one with a logo from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t help you get your name out there or stand out in a crowd.  Branding your boxes mean that not only does your customer know about you, everyone who comes into contact with your box sees your name and may well remember next time they go online.
  2. Messaging: Every company has a USP, something that sets them apart from their competitors.  The trick is getting this message across. With custom packaging, you can do this. Food companies, for example, might want people to know their food is always fresh, even if it’s being shipped, or that it’s locally sourced.
  3. Image: In competitive markets, the more you can do to stand out in the crowd, the better, especially if you are starting out or aren’t the biggest player in the field.  Your custom packaging can help you do just that. It presents a professional image, one that says you are serious about what you do and won’t let your customers down.
  4. Sustainability: Today’s consumer wants to buy from companies committed to reducing their environmental footprint.  Creating custom packaging from recycled/recyclable materials and limiting (or eliminating) the use of plastics tells them what happens to the planet matters to you as much as it does to them and is likely to lead to repeat business.   
  5. Sharing: Social media has become increasingly important to ecommerce businesses over the last few years, with people sharing what they like (and don’t) about products online.  If the people sharing have large enough followings, it can create a real boost for your business. And they are more likely to share if what arrives on their doorstep has custom packaging – though you need to make sure that packaging looks good on camera!

Protecting what’s on the inside

At the end of the day, what you put in your packaging will always matter more to the customer than the packaging, we know that.  Which is why it’s important to get your packaging right because customisation isn’t just about what’s on the outside, it’s about what’s on the inside, and that needs to arrive with your customer in perfect condition.  

Think about what you’re shipping and how your packaging can be used to protect its contents.  This will probably mean moving away from traditional packaging – standard sized boxes with lots of excess packaging materials to something that fits your products perfectly, keeping them safe until they reach their destination.  

If you aren’t sure how this might work, talk to packaging companies such as Ribble, who can talk you through the process and your options, or explore packaging solutions such as Right Size, which allow you to produce perfectly sized packaging for everything you need to ship.

Which Retail Brands Are Taking Sustainability Seriously?

Over the last few years,  consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable retail brands.

In 2017, for example, research site Statistica.com found 55% of people in the UK felt the sustainability of clothing was important while – in the same year – a survey by Unilever found 33% of consumers were choosing brands they believed were socially or environmentally conscious.

These results reflected Unilever’s own performance data, which found their most successful brands were those integrating sustainability into their purpose and products, accounting for almost half the company’s global growth in 2015.  Given these figures, it’s probably no surprise that Unilever believes sustainability isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’, but an ‘imperative’.

Five Retail Brands Taking Sustainability Seriously

Unilever aren’t the only company who believe in the importance of sustainability.

In the UK, well-known retailers are becoming well known for their commitment to producing and selling sustainable products, including:

  • IKEA

IKEA ensures everything it does has sustainability at its heart, operationally, in its supply chain (50% of the wood it uses comes from sustainable forests and 100% of its cotton from farmers working to Better Cotton Standards) and its use of natural resources (it will be a net energy exporter by 2020 thanks to the 700,000+ solar panels it has powering its stores).

By 2030, IKEA wants to be ‘planet positive’ and are looking at environmentally friendly initiatives such as selling solar panels in their stores, renting furniture or buying it back when it’s no longer wanted, and selling food made from insects.

  • Body Shop

The Body Shop has long been known for doing good (it provided the start-up capital for The Big Issue, for example, and its products have never been tested on animals) but it stepped up this commitment in 2016 with its Enrich Not Exploit pledge to protect the planet and its people. This is a plan to create a positive work environment for its employees, support the development of thriving communities wherever it sources products and to develop these products in such a way as to have no negative environmental impact by 2020.

  • H&M

The fashion industry has long struggled with how to make itself sustainable in a world where a large percentage of customers want to wear clothes that are fashionable but also affordable.  In recent years, there’s been a growth in high-end sustainable brands, but the high street has been slow to catch up. One of the first to look at how they can become more sustainable was H&M, which started a clothing collection scheme in 2013 and now produces ethical collections, including ones made from recycled materials including fishing nets and previously used nylon.

  • Sainsbury’s

As a leading UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s has focused on sustainability at home, with their commitment to paying staff a fair wage, and abroad, supporting clean water campaigns and sourcing products ethically across its supply chain.  Their commitment is outlined in a set of values that include living healthier lives, sourcing with integrity, respecting the environment, positively impacting the community and creating a great place to work.  Last year, they signed the UK Plastics Pact to help tackle plastic waste: by 2025, 100% of their plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable.

  • Marks and Spencer

One of the oldest retailers on the high street, Marks and Spencer was also one of the first to put their commitment to sustainability in writing with Plan A in 2007.  Plan A sought to address issues of social inequality, the need for healthier lifestyles and the increasing pressures on natural resources.  As a result, by 2012, all Marks and Spencer sites and their delivery fleet were carbon neutral. Last year, Marks and Spencer released their latest Plan A which includes a commitment to be a zero-waste company by 2025 and that at least 80% of the raw materials they use will be from sustainable sources.

The Future of Sustainability

Across the UK, companies from all sectors are being recognised for their commitment to protecting the environment and supporting fair working practices, for their employees and across their supply chains.

As more consumers become interested in where the products they buy come from and what companies are doing to protect their staff, this list is likely to grow because, as Unilever pointed out, no business that wants to succeed can afford to not make itself more sustainable in today’s highly competitive market.

What Is The Best Solution For Plastic Free Packaging? 

In recent years there has been an increased awareness of the impact our daily lives have on the environment. Reducing plastic has been a key focal point for many individuals and companies, with a vast number of businesses pledging to reduce their plastic use over the next few years.

Packaging accounts for more than 40 per cent of all plastic usage, and it is time that manufacturers and retail businesses made changes to become more environmentally friendly.

Plastic-free packaging often seems like a real challenge to achieve. However, there are plenty of plastic-free solutions available.

Why switch to plastic-free packaging?

Many people know that plastic isn’t sustainable or good for the environment, but most individuals are not aware of just how much plastic ends up harming the world we live in. Plastic is a convenient packaging material because it is cheap, durable and flexible, and it is so popular that it’s estimated we have used 8.3 million metric tonnes of it since the 1950s.

On top of this, 79% of the plastic produced in the last 70 years has been thrown into landfill or the general environment, with just 9% being recycled and the rest incinerated. Some of this plastic is toxic and can be extremely dangerous to animals in the oceans and across the globe.

Making the switch to plastic-free packaging can be a step in the right direction in reducing this shocking amount of plastic waste in our environment. As a business, it is your responsibility to ensure you are helping your customers to reduce their carbon footprint and operate sustainably through plastic-free packaging. You might be thinking your products need plastic in order to be appropriately packaged, but there are plenty of solutions out there for plastic-free packaging.

What is the best solution for plastic-free packaging?

There is a growing demand for reduction in plastic, and many businesses are struggling to keep up with the demand for plastic-free packaging. Most packaging uses some form of plastic, so what is a reliable and practical plastic-free packaging solution?

It might come as a surprise, but corrugated board could be the answer to all your plastic-free packaging requirements. Corrugated board offers a lot of the same benefits and features as plastic when it comes to packaging, without having a detrimental effect on the environment.

Ditching Plastic download

The benefits of corrugated board

Corrugated board is stable and secure for keeping products safe and free from damage, while also being easy to ship, carry and transport. It is available in many different shapes, sizes and thicknesses making it just as versatile as plastic for packaging solutions.

While plastic does have the added benefit of being shaped and moulded to suit any product perfectly, corrugated board when used properly can be just as customisable and versatile. Bespoke containers can be created from corrugated board as it can be made to suit any product size or shape.

Plastic is often used because it is durable and versatile enough to suit a vast range of products. Corrugated board can be subject to a range of different treatments and coatings to help bolster the strength and versatility of plastic-free packaging. A waterproof material can be used to coat corrugated board, and it can also be made flame resistant, making it an ideal plastic-free packaging choice for a range of industries.

Cardboard also offers a lot of choice by way of design as it can be easily printed on using digital or screen printing methods. Plastic packaging also provides a range of customisable design options, but as corrugated board can be printed on directly, it is cheaper, quicker and more convenient to use.

Is corrugated board a sustainable plastic-free packaging solution?

One of the most significant benefits of corrugated board as plastic-free packaging is that it can be produced from 100% recycled material, as well as be completely recycled after use.

Not only can corrugated board be easily recycled, but it is strong enough to be used time and time again. Compared with plastic, corrugated board is a much more sustainable option for product packaging. It is also a much more cost-effective plastic-free packaging solution as it is relatively cheap to produce and purchase.

Corrugated board is much more lightweight compared with plastic, saving on shipping costs and reducing your company’s fuel consumption. Packaging can be cleverly designed using cardboard to fit product sizes perfectly and save space when shipping, making it an all-round sustainable plastic-free packaging solution.

How Much Paper Comes From One Tree?

Many businesses try to achieve the goal of a paperless office.

However, this is usually because of the mess and confusion that paper documents create, rather than the fact they are striving to reduce the impact on the environment. However, by using less paper, we can help to save the number of trees from being felled, but just how much paper comes from one tree? How many trees can we save by limiting our paper usage?

Can we accurately work out how much paper comes from one tree?

Paper manufacturing uses a mix of different tree types.

While the majority of paper is made from pine trees, often other trees are used to create the pulp that will then become a sheet of paper. As well as the different types of trees used, another consideration is the fact that trees will always vary in the size and shape. Some trees will be tall with thin trunks while others may be shorter and wider. Of course, trees will always vary depending on their age, environment and type of tree.

How much paper comes from one tree, on average?

It is estimated that a standard pine tree, with 45ft of the usable trunk and a diameter of eight inches, will produce around 10,000 sheets of paper. To consider this in another way, one ream of paper (which is 500 sheets) will use 5% of a tree. Using only 5% of a tree for a ream of paper may seem like a small amount, but when you consider the number of boxes of paper that offices use on a regular basis it quickly added up.

In fact, on average, an office will use the equivalent of one tree every year, even in offices that limit their paper usage and strive for a paperless office.

Another consideration is that coated paper that is used for high-quality printing and magazines will require more pulp. In fact, one tone of coated magazine paper uses over 15 trees. For paper used for newspapers, it takes around 12 trees to create one tonne of newspaper. When you consider how many magazines and newspapers are printed and distributed across the world, it is difficult to visualise the number of trees being used.

Considerations for calculations

As well as estimating the typical size and type of tree used for paper creation, there are other considerations that can impact the calculations. These include the quality of paper, with a variety of thicknesses and quality, the amount of wood pulp required to make a tree increases. Other aspects to consider is whether the paper uses recycled material within the pulp and what percentage the recycled material is.

How many trees are felled for paper?

In the last 40 years, paper usage has grown 400%. This means that over two million trees are felled every day for global paper consumption, meaning four billion trees are cut every year to serve our paper needs. When you consider this, it makes you question whether that document is really worth printing.

Seven Ways Wasteful Packaging Is Hurting Our Environment

While many consumers are more environmentally conscious, there is still a lack of recycling.

In the UK in just one year, only 17% of the total waste was recycled. Recycling is essential; it can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill.

Many people want to contribute to reducing waste, in fact, 90% of people say they would recycle more if it is easier. However, would it be easier to recover and reduce the amount of waste if there was less packaging in society?

Excessive packaging is seen daily across the world.

Food products considered gourmet might have three different types of packaging to add to its luxury feel. While seven million takeaway coffee cups are thrown away every day and 38.5 million bottles of water are consumed and thrown away without a thought. As a society, we become almost blind to the amount of wasteful packaging because it is so apparent in daily life. However, it is dramatically affecting our environment in many different ways.

Here are just seven of the ways that wasteful packaging is damaging our environment.

Seven ways wasteful packaging affects our environment

  • Litter

In terms of the total waste, litter is only on a small scale, with a small percentage of packaging waste accumulating as litter. However, litter is a major concern for many people. Wasteful packaging such as food and beverage containers make up the third most abundant component of litter. Packaging sits behind cigarettes and food for the highest amount of litter.

While many people complain about the litter because it is unsightly, it can actually be a health hazard to humans too. Broken glass, for example, can cause injuries while excessive cardboard packaging can be a fire hazard (the risk is heightened when you consider the main proportion of litter are cigarette butts).

Litter can also attract vermin which then creates a breeding ground for bacteria which can threaten public health as well as risk the health of pets and wildlife too. Wasteful packaging as litter can also lead to clogged storm drains and can even increase algal blooms in water which can, therefore, affect the water quality impacting aquatic life and wildlife which use the water.

Not only is litter damaging the environment, but a great deal of money is spent combatting the litter problem. With less packaging, this money could be better spent developing recycling schemes which can reduce waste and lower the amount of litter too.

  • Air pollution

Air pollution can be caused by two major concerns dust and dry particles which hang in the air and fumes such as smoke, gases and vapours. Excess and wasteful packaging can contribute to air pollution in a variety of ways. For example, wasteful packaging leads to more waste incineration activities. This type of processing leads to the production of harmful gases which infiltrate the environment. These gases include vinyl chloride, CFCs and hexane.

The electricity use and transportation emission of excessive packaging also contribute to the increasing air pollution problem. Another aspect of air pollution from packaging is through landfill sites. As material decomposes in landfill sites, the decomposition process can release carbon dioxide and methane gas which can contribute to the global warming effect.

  • Birdlife

Worryingly, plastic kills over one million marine birds every single year. Birds ingest plastic packaging both directly and through the food chain. Birds can also be killed or injured by plastic packaging by getting caught up or tangled up in plastic. This is prominent with plastic can holders and six-pack rings.

Unfortunately, the excessive amount of plastic in the environment is having a severe and detrimental impact on bird life.  In fact, plastic wastage is now found in over 90% of seabirds due to the amount of plastic waste in the oceans. Furthermore, plastic is a contributing factor to the fact there has been a 67% decline in seabird populations in the last sixty years.

Another frightening statistic of how much damage plastic is causing to the birdlife is that 40% of Laysan Albatross chicks die before flying the nest. The reasons for the 40% mortality rating is the fact that their stomachs are filled with harmful plastic waste. Albatrosses are more likely to be affected by plastic packaging due to the way they hunt. An albatross will skim their beak across the surface of the water to catch fish and will often ingest plastic that is floating in the process.

  • Landfill space

In 2017, the UK generated 9.3 million tonnes of packaging waste. Unfortunately, many types of packaging take a long time to degrade. For example, plastic bags and Styrofoam cups will take from 500 years to forever to degrade. Glass bottles take up to 1 million years to degrade, and aluminium and tin cans can take up to 100 years to degrade.

With this in mind, the UK is rapidly running out of landfill space. Creating landfill areas has not been a priority for the UK as they have been making the most of the European energy-from-waste initiatives. However, as Britain leaves the EU, it remains doubtful whether the UK can still utilise these schemes. In fact, it is believed that by 2020 there will only be 50 landfill sites left in the whole country.

  • Sealife

The ingestion of plastic can be fatal for sea life. In fact, 100,000 marine animals die as a result of waste pollution every single year. A Sei whale was killed because of a laceration in the stomach caused by a plastic DVD case. A sperm whale died in Spain because of an intestinal blockage caused by 37 pounds of plastic from 59 pieces of wasteful packaging.

Plastic bags can also be incredibly harmful as they can look like jellyfish to the unsuspecting turtle. Sadly, there have been 693 different marine species that have been found to have ingested or become entangled with plastic waste in the ocean.

  • Water pollution

The production of packaging can have a high water use as well as causing water pollution. To create just one plastic water bottle takes three bottles of water as well as a quarter of a bottle of oil. It is not just water bottles that use a high amount of water, many packaging production methods use a high volume of water, wasting precious water resources.

Plastic pellets used in packaging can also affect the water. The pellets release toxic chemicals which can leach into the water. Research has found that the concentration of toxic chemicals in the pellets becomes a million times higher when in water.

  • Loss of species

Landfills are a result of a high amount of wasteful packaging and can be incredibly dangerous to the environment. Landfills not only release large amounts of methane and other toxic chemicals which can contribute to global warming, but they can also result in a loss of species.

Research has shown that between 30 and 300 species are lost per hectare of landfill site which can significantly impact the biodiversity of our planet.

Landfills also have a damaging effect with waste materials leaching toxic chemicals which leads to groundwater pollution. Furthermore, it can reduce the soil quality and fertility which can mean that plants cannot grow or thrive in the area, effectively wasting the environment and playing a key role in the food chain.

 

Fifteen Plastic Packaging Statistics That Will Scare You

In a world where we are all trying to lessen the impact we have on the environment, one of the most significant influences that seem almost unavoidable is plastic. Going plastic is virtually impossible as it infiltrates so many aspects of life. From a plastic casing on a smartphone, to a plastic computer keyboard, to plastic bags, food wrap and bottles, it is hard for a day to go by without encountering plastic.

While plastics have been around for less than a century, they have dramatically changed the way we live. The benefit of plastic is it is incredibly hardwearing and designed to last for a very long time. However, this benefit has quickly become a problem for our ecosystem.

While some plastics can be recycled, a significant proportion ends up in landfill sites.

The plastic pollution can be dangerous for our health and the environment. Many plastics are toxic and can have an adverse effect on our health. Furthermore, with so much plastic waste in the oceans, it is affecting marine life, birds, the food chain and the ecosystem as a whole.

Due to the significant impacts that plastic has on the world, ecosystems and environment, it is essential to reduce our plastic use as much as possible. If you need further encouragement to limit your plastic waste, here are fifteen plastic packaging statistics that will scare you into thinking more about your plastic consumption.

15 scary plastic packaging statistics

1. One million plastic bottles are sold every minute

Drinks bottles are one of the most popular forms of plastic packaging which ends up as wastage. Frighteningly 20,000 plastic bottles are bought worldwide every single second. Sadly, less than 50% of these are recycled. Just 7% of the plastic bottles are transformed into new bottles.

When you consider that 480 billion bottles were sold in 2016 and less than 50% of these bottles were recycled, that means there were over 240 billion bottles that went into a landfill in a single year.

2. Yearly plastic waste can circle the earth four times

The amount of plastic packaging that is thrown away every single year is enough in length to circle the globe four times over. Furthermore the rate of plastic wastage is growing at a rate of 9% every year. Naturally, landfill does not help the problem, it just delays the problem for future years.

3. 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in landfill by 2050

Since the beginning of plastic production, it is estimated that at least 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced. From this, at least 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste has been created and almost 80% have been put to landfill or is in the natural environment, such as the oceans.

With current production rates and continued mismanagement of plastic waste across the world, there will be 12 billion tonnes of wasted plastic in a landfill by 2050. With a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to biodegrade, does the earth have enough space for all of our plastic waste?

4. Plastic outnumbers sea life by six to one

There is more plastic in the oceans than wildlife. In fact, plastic outnumbers sea life by six pieces for every one animal. Furthermore 90% of the pollution floating in the ocean is plastic which accounts for 46,000 pieces of plastic in every single square mile.

5. 10 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year

Ocean plastic is significantly impacting the environment and marine ecosystems. Plastic has entered the food chain with toxic plastic being found in birdlife as well as fish and sea mammals. From a study in the journal Science, they found that 192 coastal countries are adding to 10 million tonnes of plastic ending up in the sea each year.

There are five gyres in which plastic waste accumulates in the ocean, these gyres have a much higher concentration of plastic than anywhere else in the ocean due to the circular currents.

6. All sea turtle species have plastic in their bodies

Due to the tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean, all sea turtle species and 44% of seabird species have been found to have plastic in their system or around their bodies. This also includes 22% of cetaceans too.

7. There are 718 pieces of litter for every 100m of beach in the UK

In a single 100-metre stretch of coast in the UK, you can expect to find over 700 parts of plastic packaging waste. With research conducted by the Great British Beach Clean Up, you can expect to see 42 packets, 32 plastic caps or lids and 225 plastic bottles or polystyrene pieces, amongst many other parts of plastic pollution that are washed up by the sea.

8. 50% of plastic is used only once

Incredibly, half of the plastic that is destroying the ecosystem is created for single use. This could include plastic bottle, coffee cup lids and food packaging. With such a throwaway culture, only 5% of plastic is recovered from what is produced.

9. 7 million coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every day

Love a takeaway coffee? So, do 7 million other people in the UK. In just a single day, 7 million coffee cups are thrown away every single day. Many of these coffee cups are made from polystyrene complete with plastic lids.

With hardly any coffee cups or lids being recycled or recyclable, the harmless morning coffee may be significantly damaging the environment. Regularly enjoy a coffee? Why not invest in a reusable coffee cup, your coffee shop may discount your coffee because of it too.

10. One million plastic bags are used every minute

Forgetting your reusable bag at the supermarket is easy to do. In fact, one million plastic bags are used worldwide every single minute. This means that 500 billion plastic bags are used across the globe each year. By remembering a cotton bag or shops using paper bags could significantly lessen the damage of plastic on the environment.

11. 93% of Americans test positive for a plastic chemical

The chemicals of plastic not only affect the environment, but they also affect our health too. In fact in tests for BPA which is a plastic chemical, 93% of Americans over the age of six tested positive for traces of the chemical found in the body.

The absorption of plastic into the body can be damaging to health. While research is still ongoing it has been found that plastic compounds can alter hormones in humans.

12. The ocean has a plastic mass that is twice the size of Texas

Named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there is a floating plastic mass that is considered the largest ocean garbage site in the world. The mass is collated from the North Pacific Gyre which is a circular tide that brings pollution together into one big mass of garbage. So far, it has reached an enormous size and is already twice the size of Texas.

13. Only one-third of UK plastic packaging is recycled

Despite being more eco-aware, consumers in the UK still only recycle one-third of their plastic packaging. Two-thirds of plastic packaging is taken to landfill while a small proportion is incinerated. With this in mind less than half of the plastic goods that are recyclable are actually recycled. Much of this wastage comes down to a lack of recycling provisions and not being sure whether a product can be recovered or not.

14. One million seabirds are killed every year from plastic

As plastic enters the food chain and can cause damage to birds, such as birds getting stuck in plastic can holders has resulted in one million seabirds being killed every year from plastic in the ocean. Furthermore, 100,000 marine mammals are killed per year as a result of plastic in the water.

15. Not recycling costs the UK £78 million

Recycling plastic packaging can be an essential way to save money in the UK. By not recycling products it costs around £78 million a year for landfill costs. This money could certainly be better used by local authorities to provide other services. It can also save energy and new plastic production.

Ribble take recycling seriously

At Ribble we want to do all we can to make packaging sustainable and as eco-friendly as possible. We use recycled material to create our cardboard for packaging solutions, we also make sure that our cardboard packaging is fully recyclable too. If you want to find out more about the Ribble commitment to the environment, and how we can help your business with eco-friendly packaging, get in touch by calling 0161 622 2302.

Why Is Cardboard The Best Packaging Material?

Is cardboard the best packaging material? Its popularity is evident but why?

For businesses of any size, you need to be sure that your products are well-protected. Not only do you need to make sure that items have great packaging to prevent damage, but there are also a wealth of other considerations to think about. Aspects of packaging that you may consider could include its environmentally-friendly credentials, aesthetic qualities, practicality and ease of transportation.

Here we look at some of the many reasons that cardboard consistently comes through as an excellent material for packaging

Five reasons why cardboard is the best packaging material

1.     Versatility

Cardboard can be creatively adapted to suit a range of products in varying shapes and sizes. Utilising advanced designs, cardboard packaging can have multi-uses or create forms never thought possible.

In some cases, brands have created their cardboard packaging to offer a further use after packaging. This extends the life of the product and shows the brand’s commitment to less waste. For example, clothes brands can use cardboard packaging which can be transformed into clothes hangers, giving consumers a further use out of their packaging.

With its versatility, you have to option to package many products using the same material. For example, Ribble offer on-demand box making technology, Box on Demand, so you can have the right box for your product and save on wastage.

2.     Ideal branding

While plain cardboard can be an effective packaging design in itself, cardboard can easily be transformed through colour, shape and branding. Cardboard is easy to print on or embossed to create genuinely personal packaging.

Using colours and logos, cardboard can quickly be transformed from dull packaging into vibrant and exciting protection that makes your brand easy to identify. Consider cardboard as a blank canvas, upon which you can convert with your wording and imagery to make your products fly off the shelves.

3.     Recyclable

Another considerable advantage of cardboard packaging is the fact that it is recyclable. For consumers, this brings many benefits as it is easy to dispose of and does not need special treatment to get rid of it. Most councils will pick up cardboard through their recycling collection programme, while there are many places to recycle cardboard across the UK.

What’s more, cardboard can be made of recycled material too. At Ribble, all of our boxes are made from 100% fully recycled material as well as being recyclable at the end of life also.

4.     Cut transportation costs (and the carbon footprint)

As cardboard is lightweight, it makes means the packaging does not add too much to the weight of the product overall. With lighter packaging, it makes products easier to transport and more cost-effective as you save on fuel when you save on weight. By saving on fuel, your transportation costs can be significantly reduced. Not only do you see cost-savings, but you can also reduce your carbon footprint by using less fuel.

In terms of transportation, cardboard is also very durable making it the best packaging material for business. It helps to prevent moisture from infiltrating the product; this is an essential factor for products that need to withstand long transportation times, as well as protecting food products.

5.     Cost-effective

Compared to many other packaging products, cardboard is an extremely viable option for businesses of any size. Cardboard is considered particularly cheap compared to more expensive packaging solutions such as plastic. If assessing solutions such as corrugated cardboard, then these are highly affordable as they require less material than normal cardboard, yet still give robust protection and are lightweight too.

By ordering cardboard in bulk, you can often save considerably on your packaging costs. Also, as cardboard packaging is usually delivered flatpack, you can order in bulk but still have the room to store it, so it is there when you need it, but does not take up an excessive amount of space.

Choosing cardboard for your packaging solution

If you are trying to find the perfect material for your packaging needs, then speak to the experts at Ribble. Ribble offers a wealth of cardboard packaging solutions that are recyclable and versatile. From standard boxes to bespoke packing systems, Ribble can help to ensure you have an innovative packaging solution that meets all your needs. What’s more, Ribble work with all manner of businesses, offering competitive solutions for small and large companies.

Find out more by getting in touch.

Copyright © Ribble Packaging Ltd.