As Seattle became the first city in the US to ban plastic straws this summer, the concern over single use plastics and non-biodegradable packaging is growing fast. Social media feeds are inundated with scenes of marine animals struggling through debris, and islands made up of trash are swirling in the oceans. It’s pretty hard to change habits once they are formed, and in a busy world convenience usually wins out over concerns for environmental sustainability. But these 7 products are leading the way to innovate eco packaging, and maybe reduce some trash in our landfills while they’re at it.
1. Seaweed based packaging
This slippery green stuff is an extremely versatile material and can be used for more than just the wrapping for your sushi. Evoware is a company that takes advantage of this substance, and by collaborating with seaweed farmers they have been able to develop a packaging material that is 100% biodegradable. The packaging dissolves in warm water, leaving behind no trace (and can even act as a natural fertilizer for plants!). Without any preservatives their material has a shelf life of two years, which is pretty good for a packaging solution that is completely organic.
2) Biodegradable rice fiber utensils
Next time you host a birthday party or family cookout, take stock of all of the paper and plastic materials that get thrown into the trash. When organizing big events like these it’s always easier to simply throw things away then spend hours washing plastic utensils. Luckily, this scenario finally has an eco-friendly solution. “Free The Seed” utensils are created by Australian based DB packaging and are made from organic materials. The materials dissolve naturally when they are disposed, regardless of soil conditions. The packaging is 100% organic and is made from post- harvest rice fiber, which makes use of a substance that would otherwise be discarded. The cost saving materials are inexpensive to make and are the perfect solution for those concerned with waste.
3) Paper soap bottles
When we think of a liquid item like hand soap or shampoo we usually imagine it to be in a plastic container. It’s only logical- isn’t it? But new innovators have developed a way to make bottles out of recycled newspaper and cardboard, lined on the inside with a layer of very thin recycled plastic to hold the liquids. Lots of companies are catching on to this new design, including L’Oreal who created a water resistant paper bottle that uses an interlocking design rather than glue to hold it together.
4) Newspaper egg carton
Nasty Styrofoam egg cartons can never be broken down once they are introduced to the environment, so it’s better to avoid them when possible. Marian Obando did just that when she developed a method to hold free-range eggs with one strip of newspaper. The paper is folded into a way that secures the eggs and prevents them from cracking against each other, and a strip of cardboard in the middle holds everything in place.
5) Soap packaging you can plant
Organic soap is a real treat, but one that can sour when you throw away the packaging only to realize that it is made from plastic or other materials that don’t biodegrade. That’s why Pangea Organics developed a way to incorporate organic seeds like thyme or basil into the boxes of their 100% plant based soaps. All you have to do to plant your own herb garden is slip off the label, soak the box in water and plant it in the earth.
6) Bag-free takeout
The next time you order late night hot wings to the house during a midnight craving, imagine it arriving in these neat to-go boxes! Joann Arellos invented these boxes in an effort to create a sustainable and efficient way to transport delivery food. No need for plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, these boxes are made from cardboard are held together with a series of cords.
7) Edible coffee cups
Are you the type of coffee drinker who craves a bite of something sweet alongside your morning brew? This edible cup from KFC might be the perfect packaging for you. The cups are made from sugar cookies, with a coating on the inside of heat resistant chocolate. The paper on the outside is also made from sugar, and is printed with edible ink. The idea is that as the chocolate coating melts the customer can eat the cup, enjoying their coffee and their sweet treat all in one (and leaving zero waste behind).
We love to see the many ideas that are out there, and the changes that are being made to the packaging industry! At SSI packaging industry, we are always thinking about the future. Our experts can guide you towards making the right choices for your packaging needs, and help you increase your eco-friendliness by streamlining your process.