Should You Use Biodegradable Packaging?
141 MILLION TONNES of plastics are produced each year, with the main contributor being packaging at 40%. This is because plastic offers enormous convenience being relatively inexpensive to produce, but it can be a challenge to properly recycle. Did you know that some plastics can be biodegradable? The renewable polymer PLA has all the benefits of high-quality plastic, whilst possessing the ability to be composted and naturally decompose with the advantage of being carbon neutral.
WHAT DOES BIODEGRADABLE MEAN?
If something is biodegradable, then when disposed of it will naturally encounter bacteria and microorganisms that begins the process of natural decay. Hence objects made of naturally occurring elements such as paper and food can be decomposed naturally, unlike many plastics which contain more complex carbon chains and can take many decades to disintegrate and still leave any number of microplastics in the environment.
WHAT IS PLA?
Polylactic Acid (C3H4O2), more simply known as PLA is a bioplastic made from fermented plant starch such as corn & sugar beet pulp. There are several types of PLA, such as Racemic PLLA, Regular PLLA, PDLA, and PDLLA. These all possess similar characteristics from one another and are produced from renewable resources, unlike other polymers which derive from fossil fuels, like natural gas and petroleum.
WHAT IS THE USE OF PLA?
PLA, like plastic, can be very versatile. 3D printers usually use PLA given its malleable properties and it also can be used as a direct substitute for common plastics in many circumstances. PLA can be used as a single-use plastic, such as a water bottle, food packaging, and plastic bags or even as medical devices like syringes. When these items are discarded, they will begin to break down.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PLA?
PLA is a polymer, so it benefits from all the advantages of plastic, such as being tough and rugged, water resistant and having a low weight and cost. The main issue of plastics is redundant, with PLA being biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. In the worst case where PLA products burn in an incinerator, the amount of carbon released is identical to the amount that the plant took in its lifetime.
In a report by the UNITED NATIONS, it was found that 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic had been produced between 1950 and 2017 - over half of this was produced after 2004. In 2020 over 400 million tonnes was manufactured. The expectation is that if this trend continues, then by 2050 the global production of plastic will exceed 1,100 tonnes per year. It is becoming increasingly clear how largescale this problem could become and that global changes need to be imminent.
Earth was created to be a packaging solution to help reduce the amount of plastic we waste. According to STATISTA, each year UK households throw out over 100 billion pieces of plastic, with only a 44.2% recycling rate. This is a problem as some PET plastics like plastic bottles can take up to 450 YEARS to decompose, as the plastic contains chemicals which bacteria cannot easily break down. This means that in past decades every plastic bottle, plastic toothbrush and plastic jewellery case that was not properly recycled and disposed of remains in the ground and will do for centuries. If an Earth box failed to be properly recycled and ends up in a landfill, bacteria will still be able to destroy the boxes into low levels of C02 and water.
Earth jewellery boxes come in Black and White, with Green available by special order. There are five sizes: ring, stud earring, earring, pendant and necklace. This range perfectly complements pieces which are also ethically sourced, and you can rest assured that your packaging will not contribute to pollution, even if it is not properly recycled. You can also add your brand to the lid of the box with low waste hot-foil which has no implication on the recyclability of the box.