A recently released book called, ‘Why Shrink-Wrap a Cucumber?: The Complete Guide to Environmental Packaging’ by Stephen Aldridge and Laurel Miller, addresses the principles of eco-friendly packaging, and reveals many common myths that surround its sustainable production.
Covering topics such as ‘packaging and the environment, case studies, life cycle analysis, and designing creative environmentally friendly packaging’, the book demonstrates that, when done right, food packaging and plastic bags can be as beneficial to the planet, as they are to manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
The book uses a simple shrink-wrapped cucumber as an example; environmentalist call this use of packaging unnecessary and extravagant, but when you consider that a shrink-wrapped cucumber lasts three times longer than one that is unprotected, and therefore reduces the amount of food waste reaching the landfill and lowers shipping costs, the pros far outweigh the cons.
The same goes for the plastic carrier bag; an item seen as synonymous with environmental destruction, the humble plastic bag is facing taxes, levies and bans across the world, but studies show their heavier replacements, namely cotton and jute carrier bags, are not necessarily kinder on the planet.
“A recent Environment Agency study found that a cotton bag would have to be reused approximately 130 times before it became as environmentally efficient as a single-use bag,” Aldridge writes. “If the ‘single-use’ bag were reused just three times as a shopping bag the cotton bag would have to be reused 393 times to achieve the same carbon footprint.”
Environmental issues, such as climate change, are forcing designers and packaging manufacturers to re-evaluate the materials and techniques they use, and with global brands such as McDonalds replacing their Styrofoam cartons with 72% recycled cardboard cartons, and Coca-Cola introducing lightweight Ultra glass bottles, we can be in no doubt that eco-friendly packaging is moving in the right direction.