Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
40% of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.
These stats are not a treat to anybody's eyes! Which is why there is a dire need to find alternatives to single-use plastic. One such option is recyclable laminate.
Recyclable laminates are packaging films made out of a single material. These are a class of mono-layer laminates without any extra chemicals making these laminates recyclable. Hence, recyclable laminates are generally made from polyethylene only. This makes them easily recyclable.
Even though flexible laminates are great for lightweight packaging with their excellent barrier properties; many of them are not completely recyclable. Laminates that are made of composite materials: either different types of plastics or metalized plastics are quite difficult to recycle. A laminate that consists of multiple layers of different materials is difficult to separate. Recycling stations may often have to use different chemicals to separate the components. This results in wasting a lot of material in the process. That is why regular laminates are not easy to recycle.
The reasons behind the increasing demand for recyclable laminates are many. Here are some of the reasons why manufacturers are opting for recyclable laminates.
As of March 2019, 127 countries are regulating plastic bags in one way or the other. Plastic bags and other single-use plastic products such as cups, straws and plastic lids end up in landfills or oceans. Plastics take thousands of years to decompose, and plastic in oceans have a huge negative impact on aquatic life, as well as on humans. Multiple states in the US, as well as a lot of countries in Europe and Asia, have banned single-use plastics. This means manufacturers are forced to opt for reusable and recyclable laminates.
You might also like to read more about remarkable plastic bans across the globe.
The demand for recycled products has increased following increasing consumer awareness. For instance, in Sweden, the ReTuna shopping mall has only recycled and upcycled products for sale. Recycled materials can include plastic utensils, cutlery, interior decoration items, clothing, etc.
A lot of flexible packaging are not easily recyclable. Especially packaging of ready to eat food products, such as chips. Crackers, biscuits, cereals and other products have metalized laminated to keep the products fresh for longer. However, these plastic packaging is not reused. In some cases, manufacturers provide stand up pouches with zip locks that the end-user can use to store the product. However, when disposed of, the packaging cannot be recycled with ease. With recyclable laminates, once disposed of, recycling stations can ensure that the plastic can be reused.
People are now much more aware of how much adverse effect their consumption is having on the planet. Consumers are favoring companies who are making it easier for them to reduce their carbon footprint. Even if a consumer is not actively doing something to help the planet, the eco-friendliness of a product can still be a motivation for customers. The USP of a lot of products is nothing but eco-friendliness, especially post-consumer goods. Therefore, using recyclable packaging can not only act as a good marketing strategy but will also help the planet.
Sustainable packaging has never been cheaper and as easily accessible as it is now. Manufacturers are now making recyclable laminates and packaging that uses this material is readily available. These are customizable like regular packaging and have all the properties that a non-recyclable laminate would have.
There are multiple reasons why more and more manufacturers are opting for recyclable laminates. Besides pressure from the government, consumers also prefer environment-friendly products. Furthermore, recycling is now easier and thus it makes more sense to opt for recyclable materials.