Eco-Friendly Gifts: Why We Use Plastic Free Packaging
We love to sell our range of Eco-Friendly Gifts, and we love that they come in completely plastic free packaging.
In this blog, we're going to talk about what alternatives we are using to single use plastic packaging, and why we're doing it. We're going to go through some of the data that lies behind plastic pollution, and the effects it's having on us all.
We're also going to give a case study on a specific range that shows how we are using plastic free packaging, with our Gifts For Students collection.
Plastic Free Packaging
Let's start with our compostable packaging that we use to wrap our compostable gifts in. Our range of compostable items are included in our Eco-Friendly Picnic Hamper amongst others. We have Compostable Plates, Compostable Cutlery and Compostable Cups.
We wrap these in our Compostable Liners, which are both home compostable as well as industrially compostable. Even though they are fully biodegradable, they should only be disposed of in controlled environments.
We will discuss later why that is.
The base source of the bags is potato starch, a brilliant renewable alternative to single use plastic. Conventional plastic is produced from fossil fuels, which are both unsustainable and nonrenewable.
In place of typical packing and wrapping tape, we have fully compostable kraft paper tape. Conventional tape has a plastic lining in the adhesive, which makes it extremely hard to manage and recycle. Our kraft paper is fully recyclable, as well as being fully compostable.
We use beautiful wicker baskets for our Organic Cosmetics Gift Sets, and they are a fantastic sustainable alternative to plastic cosmetic boxes. Wicker is actually the name of the weave for the material 'Rattan'.
Typically growing in Southeast Asia, Rattan grows up to 7 times faster than an average tree (this is a very broad average, but the most comparable stat we could find). This means it can be sustainably produced, and farmed responsibly.
For several of our larger Gift Sets, we use sustainable Jute bags. Jute bags are a fantastic renewable alternative to plastic carrier bags, and they can be reused long after every item in our Gift Sets have been used up.
Because Jute reaches maturity in just 6 months, it's an extremely fast growing crop, similar to the previously mentioned Rattan. Jute also has a far higher crop yield per metre squared, than other crops found in the same geographical areas.
To keep your gifts safe in transit, we use plastic free void fill made from cornstarch. It is technically biodegradable and compostable, but we don't advertise it as such. We'll explain later why biodegradability is more complex than common advertisements portray.
Why Do We Use Plastic Free Packaging?
A huge amount of plastic entering the natural environment through improper disposal is single use.
Of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced last year, a massive 50% of that is single use. Through our range of Eco-Friendly Gifts, we want to minimize your plastic footprint when gift giving.
This includes the packaging that the gifts travel in. We want to create packaging which is both beautiful and complementary of our luxury gifts.
At the same time, we recognise that another high priority is keeping your gifts safe, whilst being sustainable at the same time.
We are proud of what we've achieved with our plastic free packaging, but there can always be one step better. We are constantly looking at the latest developments in plastic free materials, so we can incorporate them into our packaging.
Conventional plastic is playing havoc on the natural world, and everything living in it.
Particular attention has been drawn to the effects of plastic pollution on the marine environment. Marine creatures are sadly now being photographed more and more often trapped in plastic netting.
Even more sadly, they are dying from ingesting plastic debris. Turtles that come into contact with 1 piece of plastic have a 22% chance of dying from ingesting it. When a turtle has been in contact with 14 pieces of plastic, it has a 50/50 chance of not making it.
Gifts For Students: Case Study
Let's give a specific example as to how we are using plastic free packaging, with our range of Gifts For Students.
With a Desk Accessories Kit and Student Care Packages for your first year student, our Gifts For Students contain everything needed to make the transition into Uni as easy as possible.
Many of the toiletries are presented in plastic free packaging, whether it be reusable tins or tissue paper.
Our Gifts For Students range has plastic free packaging at the top of the agenda, which means you can focus on your first year student, without worrying about the environmental impact.
Is Biodegradable Packaging A Good Thing?
As previously mentioned, we have several methods of packaging that can legally be classed as biodegradable. However, we do not advertise them as being biodegradable, for moral reasons.
Items like our cornstarch void fill are biodegradable and compostable, but not in all environments. In particular, they are unlikely to biodegrade in the environments they are most likely to end up in, such as Landfill.
Let's explain why this is, by starting with the definition for biodegradability. If a material is biodegradable, it will:
"Break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, with the aid of microorganisms."
The most obvious examples of biodegradable materials are biomass. Think of an apple - if you left it in your garden (assuming your garden is grassy and not concrete) it would biodegrade in roughly a month.
The apple has been degraded through the aid of microorganisms, into CO2, water and biomass. That is the process of biodegradation.
The problem with biodegradation is that it depends on the environment the process occurs in just as much as the material itself. If you left an apple in an environment without the necessary microorganisms to aid with the biodegradation, it wouldn't break down in any reasonable time frame.
It's always hard to put a timeframe on any of these points, as the number of variables make it extremely difficult, if not impossible.
We don't advertise our corn starch void fill as being biodegradable, as it is likely to end up in landfill.
Because of the possibility that the plastic free void fill will end up in landfill where it is unlikely to biodegrade, we do not advertise it as such.
In landfill, there aren't always the required microorganisms to break down biodegradable materials. This is because waste can be so densely crammed in, that there isn't suitable oxygen for the microorganisms to survive.
In conditions where there is no oxygen present, the void fill will just occupy space, remaining inert and not biodegrading. This type of environment with no oxygen present is known as an anaerobic landfill.
Landfills with oxygen present are known as aerobic landfills. In a landfill where oxygen is present, and the correct microorganisms are available, biodegradation will take place in the corn starch void fill.
However, this is not at all a quick process.
In summary, we don't want to advertise packaging as biodegradable, when it won't biodegrade in it's most likely destination.
Can You Recycle Biodegradable Packaging?
In the current system to recycle waste, there is no large spread method of dealing with biodegradable packaging. There are a few points needed to answer this question, so let's go through them.
Many of our Compostable Gifts, and their compostable packaging, are produced from PLA. Polylactic Acid is a bioplastic, which means it has the ability to biodegrade, and / or it is produced from biomass. In the case of PLA, it's both.
The majority of plastic recycling is aimed at common petroleum based plastics such as PET and PE. Adding a material that is mistaken for PE, such as PLA (Polylactic acid), can mean the whole batch surrounding the outlier will be contaminated. This means the whole batch will likely be sent to landfill.
A specific example of how recycling contamination can ruin a batch of plastic sent for recycling, is having PVC incorrectly placed in a batch of PET.
PET requires high temperatures to soften and mould it. At these high temperatures, PVC starts to break down to form Hydrochloric Acid. This is bad news, because the acid will start to degrade the whole batch of surrounding PET.
In turn, this means the PET will not be of high enough quality to be recycled. This means the whole batch of degraded PET will be sent to landfill or incinerated.
To deal with this problem, we developed LFHP Zero. With LFHP Zero, we can process all of your used compostable waste from our gifts and their packaging.
This is at no cost to you.
Simply send your used compostable items and waste back to us using LFHP Zero, and we guarantee everything will be fully composted.
This scheme allows us to reduce huge amounts of waste needlessly sent to landfill, as well as reducing your carbon and plastic footprints.
Are All Bio Based Bioplastics Biodegradable?
No, they are not. When it comes to plastic free packaging, there are a few important things to know.
Have a look at the graph below, detailing bioplastics and their characteristics.
Just because the packaging is biobased (meaning it was produced from biomass), it does not mean it is biodegradable. We can see this from bioplastics such as biobased PE and biobased PET.
The same works the other way around, too. There are fossil based bioplastics which can biodegrade. Bioplastics like PBAT and PCL show this.
Surprisingly,when you combine fossil based bioplastics with plant based bioplastics, it can actually speed up the process of biodegradation.
In summary, we hope this blog has given you an idea of the alternatives to plastic packaging we use, as well as the motivations behind making the choice to use plastic free packaging.
Also, we hope we have gone over a few key points surrounding the ever developing field of plastic free packaging, and addressed a few myths as well.
Environmentally Friendly Gifts
As discussed in this blog, each one of our environmentally friendly gifts have the most minimal impact on the environment possible.
By using plastic free packaging, and developing zero to landfill schemes, our range of environmentally friendly gifts is unique.
If you would like to find out more about the world of bioplastics, plastic free packaging and everything else eco, feel free to subscribe to our email list at the bottom of the page.