What are the alternatives to plastic packaging?
The properties of plastic have always made it a go-to for manufacturing however, it is imperative that in our current age that the amount of plastic we consume must be reduced. Each year, 141 million tonnes of plastic packaging are produced, contributing to 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
Why is plastic used?
Plastic is a highly versatile material which can be cheaply mass-produced. Before the environmental cost of plastic was widely known, it was the most logical solution, due to its efficiency in manufacturing and malleability. A perfect example of this would be the jewellery sector. Many rings, earrings or necklaces historically come packaged in a plastic case with a metal hinge, which is challenging and expensive to separate the materials used and be properly disposed of. Regardless, plastic cases have endured and remained a firm favourite for many jewellers. By default, some of life's intimate moments have been punctuated by plastic. Even the traditional leatherette case used commonly for engagement rings hides a plastic shell, bringing plastic into even the most magical of moments.
What are the alternatives?
In the last few years, we have seen new innovative packaging appearing which aims to be more eco-friendly than plastic, with the most alike innovation to plastic, being bioplastic. The bioplastic polymer PLA is made of plants and is biodegradable and carbon neutral. These have similar properties to conventional plastics but are more expensive to produce in mass, which may make them more cost prohibitive for some businesses. You can read more about bioplastics in our journal.
Some popular packaging materials used are metals like aluminium and tin, as well as glass which is all recyclable. These are all tougher than plastic and often used for packaging food and harmful substances. However, they do lack versatility, being restricted in weight and shape making them a useful alternative for specific products.
Another innovative alternative to plastic that looks to the past rather than the future is paper and board boxes. Paper-based board as a material is far from new, having been the main choice for cereal, whiskey and premium chocolate companies and more for decades. Board boxes are widely reusable and recyclable and can be made of reused materials such as paper fibres, able to take advantage of cyclical supply chains.
At Potters, we believe we have created the perfect replacement for the conventional jewellery case. Our new EcoHinge range is a hinged shoulder box made from exclusively paper and board yet is rigid and firm, making them surprisingly durable, despite being eco-friendly. These gift boxes are made in the UK using low emissions traditional manufacturing methods whilst using paper which involved reused paper fibres, with a luxury buckram or linen finish. The hinge on these gift boxes replicates the emotive experience of opening a case so whether it's for an engagement or just a gift for someone special the moment will be one to cherish.
EcoHinge is available as a ring, earring/pendant (60mm & 80mm), bracelet and necklace sizes. Launching in white, white/black and black/silver, new and limited colours will be available in the future. Our foiling and debossing service gives you the opportunity to add an image of your choice like a logo to the lid of the box, so you can put your stamp on your packaging.