Why you should care about reusable packaging

14th of June 2020, Zürich

Our company offers a premium and zero waste solution for the packaging of take away food ! But why should you care?

With 93 % of all single use packaging ending up on landfills or in the environment worldwide, it is time to rethink how we handle packaging. Single use packaging has taken over the world because it was cheap and effective for manufacturers while consumers got addicted to the convenience of disposing. Disposing items removes them out of sight for the consumer, but in reality the environmental impact and its associated costs cannot be overlooked.

The problem is twofold, namely polluting life on our planet and wasting our resources. Through littering of unaware consumers and illegal dumping practices of malificent companies – often part of international recycling chains – millions of tons of waste have found its way into our ecosystems. The result is that materials that do not belong in natural habitats are poisoning animal life, including humans. Well known are the immediate effects on animals that eat plastic objects, but it is not limited to this. The pollution also includes the presence of toxic inks on cardboard packaging, microplastics that accumulate through the food chain and potentially in the future the amount of supposedly biodegradeable materials that just aren’t in natural conditions.

The second aspect of the problem is that we are wasting valuable resources. To make packaging, both materials and energy are required as input, which most is lost once you throw it away in the bin. The materials can come from renewable sources in case of cardboard or from limited resources such as oil in the case of (most) plastics. Whether it comes from renewable sources or not does not tell the full story. Cardboard and paper, for example, is contributing to deforestation and is more energy intensive, and hence contributing stronger to climate change, than plastics. Recycling material flows has been a step in the right direction but does not deliver to its promise to be fully circular. Recyclers are struggling with the challenges to keep recycled materials food safe (e.g. mixing with inks etc in case of cardboard), still need to add virgin material to maintain quality and are struggling to be cost effective (driving the export to developing countries).

Overall, it is a complicated problem and there is many greenwashing by companies that emphasize just one aspect of the problem. But if you consider all aspects of above, it is clear that packaged goods should be reused as long as possible. The environmental impact of cleaning and transportation is very small compared to what is required for single use packaging and with durable items that last hundreds of uses, there is a clear environmental case to initiate a revolution for reusable packaging.

Reusable packaging is not new, think about the milk bottle system that got replaced by lower cost solutions. However, since then a digital revolution has taken place, and we believe that with smart infastructure we can efficiently run a local ecosystem that takes care of cleaning and transportation. The transition requires not only a different design of the product, but a complete overhaul of the system. The solution to ecological and premium packaging for take away and fresh food is reusable packaging – and that’s why we care !

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