Tag Archives: biodegradable

The problem with plastic

Every bit of plastic ever made still existsOur reliance on plastic is at an all-time high, and a lot of the plastic we encounter on a daily basis is single-use. From drinks bottles, straws, stickers on fruit, our clothing and even tea bags, you might not realise it but it is all around us.

What’s the problem?

Plastic is very durable and does not biodegrade – which is what makes it a great material for making so many things. But, because it does not biodegrade it will remain in our environment forever.

Swimming in plastic: What's the harm?

Every year, up to 12.8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans.[i] It can take up to 500 years to decompose and, even then, it will still be present in our environment in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are an ever-growing problem; because of their small size they are difficult to clean up, and marine wildlife accidentally consumes them. In turn, fish and seafood that ends up on our dinner tables have been found to contain microplastics.[ii] This poses a danger to our health too as plastic absorbs contaminants from the surroundings which could pose a significant risk to our health.

What can we do?

On a more local scale, we can all make small changes to curb our plastic consumption. Buying a reusable cup for your morning coffee or saying no to a plastic straw in your drink might seem insignificant, but if everyone makes the effort it can make a difference.

What we can do to reduce plastic consumption

Globally, protective packaging materials make up almost half of all plastic waste. Our Eco Flo loose fill is completely biodegradable and is an easy swap which will help to curb your plastic consumption.

Find out exactly how long some of the most common plastics take to biodegrade, and the alternatives that are better for the environment in Swimming in Plastic: what’s the harm?

[i] https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/7/3/17514172/how-much-plastic-is-in-the-ocean-2018

[ii] http://www.fao.org/in-action/globefish/fishery-information/resource-detail/en/c/1046435/

New Product Launch: Potato Based Packaging Protection

Following Earth Over Shoot Day earlier this month, we’re continuing with our environmental theme to help you go green. Take a look at the AirWave Void Fill Pillow System, one of the most revolutionary and eco-friendly packaging machines we’ve seen. This environmentally friendly packaging product uses left over potato peelings to make void fill packaging that can easily be composted at home!  To find out more about this innovative product and what it could offer your packaging operation, read on.

The AirWave - Eco-friendly packaging made from potato
Capturing air to protect packages
 

Air cushion packaging is very effective void fill, with a range of machines and cushion sizes available.  Rather than using physical void fill material such as packing peanuts, Kraft paper or tissue, air pillows are lightweight (being 98% air and 2% cushion), small and easy to store and can be made up in seconds with the right equipment.  Not only that, the abundance of air makes the contents of the pillow filling very easy to source!  The use of plastic which all pillows are made from, has been the only environmental concern to date…that is until now.

Turning potato waste into protective packaging with the AirWave

You may already be using air cushions in your packaging operation with a Mini Pak’r or a similar machine.  Small, compact and highly efficient, these machines are only slightly larger than a standard laptop so even a small packaging operation could easily support them.  They quickly produce air cushions for filling space in parcels and cartons, preventing items moving during shipping and keeping the contents safe and secure.

Operationally, this efficient AirWave works in a similar way to other air cushion machines; quick, quiet and compact, it can produce enough cushions for four packing stations with up to 8 – 10 metres of cushion per minute – a lot of volume from such a small machine!  It’s able to produce both air filled cushions or quilts which are inflated and sealed in one smooth process through the machine, running at ≤60dB it keeps things nice and quiet.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life

Air pillows have been historically made from plastic which can be difficult to recycle depending on the facilities and services you have locally.  The AirWave is an industry first which uses a biocompostable biopolymer material as its air cushions – with no plastic in sight! The AirWave void fill biocompostable pillow film is 100% plastic free, meaning it’s naturally sourced material will fully break down in a normal compost environment.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life into protective packaging

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/doyland/4985322023/

The fun part is that these biopolymers are made from potato! They’re completely formed from natural potato peelings and other waste by products of the potato processing industry – it’s this source of material which means they are able to completely break down in the environment.

Potato peelings can be given a new lease of life once their work is done providing protection to parcels and products all around the world.  After they have been disposed of and made into compost, they can then be used to help grow new potatoes in the garden!

The science behind potato air pillows

AirWave pillows are household-biodegradable, meaning they can be disposed of in your normal compost that you’ll find in a residential property. No special disposal method is needed at all and they won’t have any negative impact on the quality of compost, making them ideal for home recycling. Finally, the pillows fully comply with standards for compostability (EN 13432) which means they’ll degrade by 90% physically within 12 weeks, and biologically within 6 months.

Eco-friendly protective packaging made from potato wasteSustainable packaging - Pototo waste can be made into protective packaging

Images sources: https://morguefile.com/p/1058151
https://www.flickr.com/photos/facilitybikeclub/3321732096/

We’re very impressed with the environmental innovation that AirWave has brought to the protective packaging industry, it perfectly aligns with our strong stance on environmental protection and helps our customers go green. For August we’re offering a discount of 10% off all orders of bio pillow film rolls, so hurry to take advantage of this limited time offer.

If you’d like more information about void fill packaging, air cushion machines or are interested in being one of the first to try out our new AirWave pillows on your packaging line, simply get in touch with our team of packaging machine experts who are on hand to help.  Visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 142 26 46, or machines@rajapack.co.uk.

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

With over 600 different sizes of cardboard boxes to choose from, we’re confident that we can supply a box to fit any size or shape of product. But once something has been successfully shipped the cardboard then must be properly disposed of.

Everyday at Rajapack we get asked questions about how to recycle cardboard boxes or how to recycle cardboard boxes at home.  These questions are so popular that we’ve decided to focus this post on exactly that, including useful info on where to recycle cardboard boxes.

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/fyaTq-fIlro

 A beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard

If you’re not familiar with cardboard boxes and what they’re made from then we’ve put together some brief info to get you up to speed.

Firstly, what does corrugate cardboard mean? This is the structure of the board and the combined inner layers of liner and fluting which gives boxes their rigidity and strength. All boxes we sell at Rajapack are made from corrugate cardboard.

The layers of liner in a box are usually made from test paper which is a lower grade of Kraft and Kraft paper which is made from virgin fibres and is a higher grade. These liners provide strength and support to the fluting which runs between them and can offer some resistance from water and the elements. The material used here means you can write or print on the box for easy identification.

Finally, what is fluting? Fluting is the word used to describe the wavey cardboard that is between the two liners.  It’s wavey shape gives strength to the liners that surround it and the direction and distance between the flutes can vary depending on the strength of the cardboard box. More waves means a box has more strength.

Can corrugated cardboard be recycled?

Corrugate board is one of the most popular types of cardboard we use, found in corrugated cardboard boxes and packaging where it offers excellent strength and resistance to knocks and bumps.  The inner layer of corrugate, sandwiched between two layers of Kraft paper, make it strong and resilient.

The big question we get asked is “Can you recycle corrugated cardboard?” Absolutely! The great thing about corrugated cardboard is that it can be completely recycled and used to make other cardboard boxes and cardboard products.  Recycling your used cardboard boxes saves the trees, energy and materials used in the manufacture of new boxes.

At Rajapack we have a range of eco-friendly packaging, including our boxes which are made from 75% recycled fibres on average, and the ‘recycling loop’ for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/qph7tJfcDys

So, our Sales team is frequently asked, where to take cardboard boxes to recycle them? Many councils now offer recycling boxes for homes (usually coloured green or blue) where you can place items such as paper, aluminium and cardboard including corrugated cardboard for regular collection.  There are also local recycling sites across the country which accept corrugated cardboard for free.

You can check your recycling collections and find local recycling sites in the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, an easy to use page where you only need to enter your postcode. Other sites such as the Recycling Locator on recyclenow also make it easy to find information on where you can recycle locally.

Is cardboard biodegradable?

If a material is biodegradable then it naturally breaks down and decomposes in the environment in a way that doesn’t harm it. Food waste, for example is highly biodegradable usually breaking down naturally and safely in a short amount of time.

Cardboard is a biodegradable material – corrugated cardboard will break down and decompose naturally, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.

It breaks down quicker if it’s wet and broken up into small pieces, and so is great for home composting if you have a compost bin.  If you are disposing of it at home, then make sure to cut it into small squares and wet it through thoroughly. There’s lots of useful information online about how to prepare it for composting.

How to break down cardboard boxes

Once you’ve finished with a cardboard box, it’s quick and easy to break it down so that it can be properly stored, ready for recycling or prepared for compost.

The first thing to do is to remove all plastic or vinyl packaging tape from the box.  This will have been used to seal it shut, and usually runs along the top and bottom flaps to keep it secure. This should easily pull off and can be disposed along with your normal rubbish.

If paper tape has been used to seal the box then you can leave this on as it can be recycled along with the cardboard box. If you’re composting then it will biodegrade along with the cardboard, so it’s safe to leave on. It’s what makes paper tape more eco-friendly than vinyl or plastic tape.

Once the non-recyclable tape has been removed, then you can easily flatten the box out. Ensure the top and bottom flaps are straight (not at right angles to the box) and push the opposite corners together.  The box should close up and you should then have a flat box which is much easier to store or transport.  If you are recycling it, be sure to keep it in a dry place ready for collection as it can be very difficult to recycle and handle when wet.

Read How to Recycle Packaging Materials for more information on recycling packaging materials, and if you’d like more information about the range of cardboard boxes that we offer, any help or advice on purchasing packaging or the best way to dispose of it, then simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help.

Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

The Art of Recycling: Does the UK care as much about the environment as we think we do?

As individuals, could we be doing more to help the environment? We looked a little closer at some of the UK’s recycling habits and learnt that on average, every seven weeks people in the UK throw away their own body weight in rubbish.[i]

The benefits of recycling are clear. Manufacturing one aluminium drinks can uses the same amount of energy as recycling twenty.[ii] What’s more, there would be 14 million fewer full dustbins every year if we recycled all the aluminium drinks cans sold in the UK.[iii] All our Rajapack cardboard boxes are 100% recyclable and we’re always working towards growing our range of environmentally-friendly packaging solutions.

94% of British adults say they care about the environment

What are the effects of not recycling as much as we could? Earth Overshoot Day gives us an idea of how much we are harming the environment.

Earth Overshoot Day

We use more from nature than the planet can renew. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date each year when we have consumed more than can be regenerated.  Thirty years ago, in 1987, this day fell on the 19th December. Ten years ago, 2007, it was 26th October.[iv] In 2017 Earth Overshoot Day falls on the 2nd August.

This is a clear indication we need to start doing more to help the environment. So, we decided to find out a bit more about the public’s attitudes to recycling. Local councils provide plastic crates, bins and bags – usually free of charge – specifically to make recycling easier for us. But is it working?

Are we a throwaway society?

In the country, 96% know aluminium cans are recyclable, only 76% that use them recycle them

Since 2010, the amount the UK recycles has been increasing. However, in 2015 this rate dropped.[v] To find out a little more about this decline, we commissioned a YouGov survey to find out how the British public really feels about recycling.

Our results show that almost everyone in Great Britain says they care about the environment (94%), but almost half of them (47%) feel they could recycle more than they currently do. This is despite almost three-quarters of the British public (74%) thinking their local council makes it easy for them to recycle. Do people simply not have the time to sort out their recycling?

We found out that although almost everyone in the country knows that aluminium cans can be recycled (96%), only 76% of those who use them say they recycle them every time. In Wales, 100% of people who responded to our survey knew that aluminium can be recycled, but only 80% said they recycle their empty cans every time.

100% of the Welsh know aluminium cans are recyclable, only 80% recycle them

Does a lack of knowledge around what can be recycled contribute to people not recycling more? Polystyrene isn’t a commonly recycled material, but some councils do accept it at household recycling centres.[vi] Yet over a third of Brits (37%) think polystyrene can be recycled, while nearly half of them believe it can never be recycled. Only 13% of those in Britain admitted they didn’t know.

Recycling cardboard

One of the most common packaging materials in the UK is corrugated cardboard[vii], which means most of us will probably have it in our homes in some form. The good news from our survey is Brits are more likely to recycle cardboard than any other material we asked about, with 79% of people who use it saying they always recycle it.

Our findings back up the statement that cardboard has the best recycling rate of any packaging material in the UK. This high rate of recycling means that cardboard boxes made in the UK contain up to 76% recycled material, on average. Some boxes are constructed from 100% recycled material. [viii]

The most recycled materials is cardboard, 79% say they always recycle it

How can we improve?

Although it’s worrying that recycling rates in the UK have dropped from previous years, it isn’t too late to do something about it. With people in the UK willing to admit they aren’t always sure what can be recycled, there is scope to educate people about what can and can’t be put into their recycling bins.

Many businesses are beginning use more eco-friendly packaging solutions. At Rajapack, we offer eco-friendly and recycled packaging across our range and our Packaging Specialists are always on hand to provide information on how to make more environmentally-responsible packaging choices.

If you want to find out more about what you can recycle in your local area, this tool from Recycle Now will tell you everything you need to know.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2026 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th-18th July 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 [i]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[ii]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[iii]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[iv] http://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/past-earth-overshoot-days/

[v]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/593040/UK_statsonwaste_statsnotice_Dec2016_FINALv2_2.pdf

[vi] https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/polystyrene-1

[vii] https://cardboard.org.uk/what-is-corrugated-cardboard/

[viii] https://cardboard.org.uk/what-is-corrugated-cardboard/