Packaging plays an important role in a world where nearly anything will come to your door. In the industrial and manufacturing world, packaging plays a huge positive role as it is what protects products and sensitive equipment during transportation, distribution, and storage.
However, packaging continues to have a significant, and unresolved, impact on the environment. Packaging waste such as plastic, paper, and metal can take years to decompose and can be major contributors to pollution when disposed of improperly. Additionally, the production of packaging materials requires energy and resources, which contributes to further negative impact on the environment.
What many consumers may not know is that packaging can also play a role in reducing the environmental impact of many products themselves. For example, packaging can be designed to extend the shelf life of some products, reducing the need for refrigeration or other energy-intensive storage methods. Further, packaging can be used to reduce the weight and volume of products, making transportation more efficient and reducing the carbon footprint of distribution. While packaging can contribute to environmental problems, it can also be designed and used in ways that help mitigate those problems. To minimize the negative impact of packaging on the environment, it is important to consider the entire lifecycle of packaging, from production to disposal, and to seek out more sustainable alternatives whenever possible.
While many of us in the manufacturing and industrial world are aware of the hazards of waste with packaging, it’s not always that we have control of the infrastructure or budgets to entirely use packaging that is designed to be environmentally friendly. What we can do, as custodians of plants, is ask ourselves and our team a fundamental list of questions to ensure that we are being as responsible as possible to the environment. For example:
- Are we actively reducing the amount of packaging used by avoiding products with excessive material and opting for items with minimal or eco-friendly packaging?
- Are we consciously selecting products made from eco-friendly materials such as paper, glass, or biodegradable plastics, while avoiding materials that are difficult to recycle, such as single-use plastics?
- Are we actively supporting companies that prioritize sustainable packaging practices, such as using recycled materials, reducing packaging waste, or implementing eco-friendly alternatives?
- Are we promoting the reuse of packaging by using reusable items instead of relying on disposable packaging?
- Are we ensuring that the packaging from food and other necessities brought in by our staff is being appropriately disposed of?
- Are we maximizing recycling efforts by following local recycling guidelines and ensuring that as much packaging as possible is recycled? And if an item cannot be recycled, are we seeking ways to reuse it or dispose of it properly?
- If we have access to a composting system, are we taking advantage of it by composting certain types of packaging, such as cardboard and paper-based materials?
The relationship between packaging and the environment will continue to remain complex and multifaceted. What we can do is make small changes and continuous improvements that will contribute to delivering compound benefits in the long term.
At CRU Air + Gas, we take pride in our commitment to adhering to a high standard of environmental ethics. If that is a priority for you in a partner, drop us a note via our contact page and one of our team of experts will be in touch for further assistance.