The Environmental Advantages of Recyclable Packaging

The world keeps making more and more plastic, paper, and cardboard. We’ve already made enough of the stuff to last a lifetime. 

When we’re done with it, we toss it in a big pile and start all over again. This requires more energy and resources while creating a significant problem in the form of trash. 

Recyclable packaging is designed to keep that mountain from growing. When we’re done with the paper and plastic and cardboard, we turn it into different paper and plastic and cardboard that we can use again. 

Most companies have taken the initiative to switch to sustainable, biodegradable, or recyclable packaging. It’s now up to you to choose to shop with these companies and to make sure that packaging reaches the recycling destination.

What Happens to Packaging That Isn’t Recycled?

Since 2018, over 27 million tons of plastic have found their way to landfills in the United States. That’s 54,000,000,000 pounds. 

Putting that into perspective, the amount of plastic added to landfills is the weight equivalent of:

  • 2,673 Eiffel Towers
  • 516 Titanics
  • 73 Empire State buildings
  • 4.7 Great Pyramids of Giza 

Some plastics take as long as 500 years to decompose in a landfill. This means that nearly every plastic that wasn’t recycled since the invention of plastic is still sitting in a landfill. 

It would be nearly impossible to pick through every landfill to remove every piece of recyclable plastic and send it to a new destination. This is a problem we have to wait out for several generations.

The best thing we can do is stop contributing to the problem by exclusively using products that come in recyclable packaging and assuring that those plastics make it to the proper facility. 

The Benefits Only Exist if the Packaging Is Actually Recycled

Most packaging is technically recyclable or reusable. A significant portion of the packaging currently sitting in landfills could have been recycled. But for one reason or another, it wasn’t. 

This is an effort that would require the cooperation of most people in the world to be successful. It’s up to companies to take the initiative to ensure that they’re using recyclable packaging and using the smallest possible amount of that packaging. 

Encouraging their customers to recycle is a crucially important aspect of raising awareness and participation. Printed reminders on product containers and shipping boxes can help jog the memory of people who might otherwise toss them in the trash.

If you care about the environment and try to be more conscious of the products you buy, you need to follow through with the second step of the recycling relay. 

Once you’ve used up the products or you’re ready to dispose of the packaging, you need to do so appropriately. Most people don’t fail to recycle because they don’t care about the planet. They simply forget what can and cannot be recycled, or they’re unaware that they can recycle something. 

The Advantages of Biodegradable Packaging

All cardboard is biodegradable. If you’ve come home to find a package sitting on your doorstep in the rain, you’ve probably noticed that the moisture has jumpstarted the process of the box breaking down. Treated cardboard takes up to 5 years to fully decompose. Untreated cardboard decomposes in as little as a year. 

While neither timeline is as severe as the timeline of plastics, it’s always a better idea to purchase from companies that use untreated cardboard products and print their packaging with vegetable-based inks. Even if they aren’t recycled, these boxes will do minimal harm to the environment in their production and disposal. 

Cardboard can be recycled to make other cardboard products. Environmentally conscious companies usually have their packaging at least partially made from “post-consumer content.” 

This means that the box you’re opening or the sleeve on your warm coffee drink is made (at least in part) from paper that once existed as something else. 

Using Less Packaging

Another critical factor in managing the amount of waste we generate, whether that waste is recycled or improperly disposed of, is the amount of packaging used for a product. 

Have you ever received a giant package in the mail only to discover that inside of the box was one tiny thing and a bunch of air bubble cushions?

There’s never a reason for that. An essential part of recycling and using recycled materials is to make sure that we’re only using the appropriate amounts. If you’ve noticed that a company is sending you a bunch of tiny things in a huge box, hold them accountable. 

Ask them why they felt it necessary to use so much extra packaging when a well-packed small box would have been sufficient. 

Your dollar has influence. If the majority of the market shows commitment to recyclable and sustainable companies, they’ll need to change their practices to continue making a profit. Sometimes, shopping elsewhere sends a message so strong that companies will be willing to do what’s right to maintain their bottom line. 

Sustainability is Important to Us

From the very beginning, the intention of Caldera + Lab was always to do things the right way. We didn’t have to go out of our way to become a certified B Corporation, but we did it anyway. We wanted to make our values clear and practice what we preached, and becoming a B Corporation holds us accountable and keeps us transparent. 

Our essential product, The Good, is a face serum made exclusively from sustainable organically grown or wild-harvested botanicals. The packaging is 95% recyclable, and we’re constantly looking for ways to bring that number up. 

Our supply chain and process are monitored. Our carbon footprint is carefully managed. We even have monitoring and transparency in the benefits we give our employees and the charitable contributions we make every year.

We care about the environment, and we know we’re doing our best to prove how much we care about the way we create our products. Even though we’ve reached incredible goals, we’re still searching for more. We’ll always continue to improve our practices to make them even more sustainable.

When you use up your Caldera + Lab skincare products, we kindly remind you to recycle the packaging. We work tirelessly to ensure that everything we do causes as little harm to the environment as possible. The only thing we ask of you is that you dispose of the packaging properly. We can work together to make a difference in the health of our planet. 

 

Sources:

Plastics: material-specific Data | Facts, and Figures about Materials, Waste, and Recycling | Environmental Protection Agency

The lifecycle of plastics | World Wildlife Federation

History of plastics | Plastics Europe