Lightweighting rigid containers is extremely important for the future of rigid packaging. Overall, plastics are lighter and more efficient than many alternatives. The lighter weight reduces their environmental footprint by decreasing waste, energy use and carbon emissions through the full life cycle of a product.
For example, glass baby food jars produce between 25 percent and 33 percent more greenhouse gases than plastic ones. Also, plastic pots send fewer pollutants into waterways and require less acreage compared to glass jars.
The cost of using plastics in packaged goods is less than the cost of using other materials because there is less energy used to transport plastics.
Delivering Sustainable Results
The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) members have a proven track record of reducing weight while delivering on performance requirements, but they are also leaders in advancing the use of recycled material. The reuse and recycling of post-consumer resins (PCR) help aid in conserving our natural resource.
Graham Packaging Company (grahampackaging.com), a supplier of bottle-grade recycled plastics, collects more than 40 million pounds of PCR from its own recycling facility and uses it to make new products. These efforts conserve energy and natural resources while greatly cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions in the company’s manufacturing processes.
Another supplier, Berry Global (berryglobal.com), recently introduced Verdant, a line of packaging that contains between 25-100 percent PCR. Targeting the beauty and personal care markets, the line of jars, bottles, tubes and closures offer appeal and functionality with a strong sustainability position.
The company is also developing new package designs focused on e-commerce channels. These designs provide solutions that improve recyclability and have continued innovation that help reduce weight and material usage.
Consolidated Container Company (CCC, ccllc.com), another manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging, operates a PCR business called Envision Plastics. The company is a technology leader in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycling and the only producer of food-grade HDPE. Envision Plastics, in partnership with Method, was able to produce bottles made from ocean PCR.
CCC also produces Seventh Generation’s 100 oz. laundry detergent bottle using Braskem’s I’m Green Polyethylene (PE) made from sugarcane, a renewable resource.
The Future of Rigid Plastics
We have not exhausted the applications of rigid plastics. The key factors to remain competitive in the plastics industry are innovation, innovation and more innovation — and that applies to rigid plastics.
PLASTICS’ “2018 Size and Impact” report indicates plastics manufacturing will increase 2.2 percent this year. Economic conditions — particularly personal consumption expenditures — are expected to remain stable this year and that should sustain growth in rigid packaging. Today, plastics are paving the way for a safer, healthier and more sustainable future. Beyond energy savings and water conservation, plastic packaging helps to preserve the shelf life of food, thereby preventing food waste. Plastic packaging is a crucial part of improving healthcare and medicine — often at the core of medical innovation and widely used because it is impermeable to germs.
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