Oftentimes when I write about sustainable plastic packaging, I can't help but wonder - do consumers understand what that means?
This is why I've read with interest a news release from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) that looked at the connection between plastic food packaging and sustainability. The association said that many people assume that packaging must be recyclable to be "sustainable." And no one is disputing the power of recycling: recycling reduces energy use, and it cuts greenhouse gas. Plus, recycling industries create significantly more and better jobs than simply hauling and burying garbage. Simply put, when materials have value, burying them in a big hole in the ground is an egregious waste of resources.
"But looking only at recycling when reviewing the sustainability of packaging is sort of like choosing a spouse based solely on good looks - there's lots more to consider," the CPIA stated. In fact, there actually are standards for measuring environmental sustainability that look at impacts across the entire "life cycle" of packaging. This includes all the material and energy inputs and outputs of the packaging. We need to look at energy used in manufacturing, water use, energy used in transportation, greenhouse gas and other emissions, impacts of solid waste disposal, and so on, the CPIA stated.