Reduce Reuse Recycle
We all get excited when something is delivered that's been ordered online. The use of colourful boxes, ribbons, tissue paper and printed cards and stickers all contribute to making the purchase feel even more special.
Many people believe a nicely packaged product has a more upmarket feel. With more consumers than ever now shopping online, the "beautifying" of e-commerce parcels is becoming a serious problem. This is because of the amount of waste that's being generated.
Although more recyclable materials are being used, eighty six million tons of non-recyclable packaging is still being used globally each year.
A significant amount of packaging that's claimed to be recyclable ends up in landfill. This is either because it's not actually recyclable or is too difficult or too expensive to recycle.
As well as reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, recycling also helps to conserve natural resources. It also reduces the amount of new materials that need to be produced.
Despite the benefits of recycling a huge amount of energy is used to transport and process these materials. It's worth remembering everything that's recycled must first be sorted. That's why "reusing" is just as important as recycling.
The problem with packaging is that it's a constant cycle of consumption, disposal and waste. Manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers are all continuously buying and/or disposing of materials. Most packaging is only used once.
Imagine the impact it would have if we all reused packaging for as long it was feasible to do so.
At Stone Mania we're passionate about the environment and do whatever we can to minimise our carbon footprint. We don't use plastic packaging which includes bubble wrap and plastic sticky tape. We use plain non printed packaging and don't include any unnecessary printed matter.
Our current non-recyclable padded envelopes are old stock and are not being replaced. Most of our orders now go out in plain cardboard boxes.
Sticky paper which includes Post-It notes, sticky labels and sticky tape cannot be recycled. Despite many companies claiming their sticky tape can be recycled that's not correct. Anything with adhesive cannot be recycled.
Having challenged one company who claimed their printed paper sticky tape was fully recyclable they told us the adhesive is removed with chemicals as part of the pulping process at the recycling plant.
On most council website here in the UK it's clearly stated that anything with adhesive must go to landfill. On every official recycling website that we've visited it also states adhesive cannot be recycled.
Despite raising this with several companies who claim their products are recyclable none have responded.
Biodegradable materials are a better choice because although they still go to landfill they break down naturally over time.
Foil based wrapping which is anything that's not paper cannot be recycled either. Foil-based wrapping springs back when you screw it up.
Gift wrap and parchment paper cannot be recycled.
Business cards or other printed materials with a plastic coating can't be recycled nor can anything glossy, laminated or with glitter.
Tissue paper (including shredded tissue paper) cannot be recycled.
Some councils are unable to recycle shredded paper. If you're in the UK you can check whether it can go in your blue recycling bin here. If it can be recycled with kerbside recycling it should be placed in a paper bag or box that can be closed.
The sticky address labels used on most packaging should be removed prior to recycling.
At recycling plants where rubbish is sorted, anything that cannot be recycled is classed as a contaminant. Where possible it will be removed.
Many items marked as recyclable end up in landfill because they can only be recycled at specialist recycling centres. Therefore although recyclable they can't be included with kerbside recycling.
To ensure Earth's natural resources are available for future generations we all need to reduce the amount of waste that we generate.
We also need to become more aware of what can and cannot be recycled and how to recycle some materials correctly.
We have all become far too accustomed to throwing things away without giving a second thought as to whether something could possibly be reused. Reducing the constant cycle of production is just as important as recycling.