Why Use Polymer Packaging?
Polymer packaging provides consumers and brand owners with a variety of benefits over other materials. For starters, polymers such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) are often more energy-efficient to manufacture due to how light they are compared to other materials. According to the American Chemistry Council, just two pounds of plastic can deliver 10 gallons of a beverage. To hold the same amount with other popular materials for beverage containers, companies would need:
- Three pounds of aluminum
- Eight pounds of steel
- Over forty pounds glass1
Not only does polyethylene’s lighter weight help make it more energy and cost-efficient to manufacture, but it also protects products in transit since it’s more durable and resistant to damage. That's just one of the reasons why polyethylene is a great option for packaging for retail environments. It’s tougher than other plastics, while still maintaining a variety of other benefits distributors and sellers look for such as moisture resistance.
Reduce Food Waste with Flexible Polymer Packaging
One of the largest applications for polymer packaging is in the food and beverage industry. In addition to being cost-effective to produce, plastic film plays a major role in combating a common environmental hazard – food waste.
Polyethylene film packaging can help elongate the life of wrapped food items, which can increase shelf life and reduce the chances of being thrown away. According to The Economist, “...food wrappings can in fact be an environmental boon. By more than doubling the time that some meat items can stay on shelves, for example, better packaging ensures that precious resources are used more efficiently.”2 According to the American Meat Science Association, there are a few reasons for this:
- Most materials designed for wrapping meat have specific qualities, such as low moisture/vapor transmission rates, heat shrink ability, stretch, pliability, strength, and the ability to retain their protective characteristics over a wide range of temperatures and conditions.
- Films for fresh meat packaging are designed to allow a small amount of oxygen to pass through the film, thus maintaining the oxymyoglobin that gives meat its fresh red color.3
Additionally, as food decomposes in landfills, it generates a harmful greenhouse gas called methane. So, extending the shelf life and reducing food waste means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.4
In support of plastic packaging, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported on a new study by sustainability data consulting firm, Trucost, that found that the environmental cost of using plastics in consumer goods packaging is nearly four times less than alternative materials.
According to the ACC’s official press release, “Trucost found that replacing plastics in consumer products and packaging with a mix of alternative materials that provide the same function would increase environmental costs from $139 billion to $533 billion annually.5
In addition to providing brand owners with environmental benefits, incorporating plastic packaging such as film can become an important component in alleviating both hygiene and sustainability concerns during COVID-19, as consumers look for their hygienic ways to get products while still wanting to take into account sustainability concerns.