Aluminium tube vs plastic tube

Packaging is not only a commodity (we have already talked about it several times), but it plays a fundamental role in consumers’ purchase choices. We can consider it a real strategic choice, both by companies and consumers, which is why brands should see it as a fundamental aspect of the marketing mix.   

In the previous episode of the Packaging Challenge the aluminium tube challenged the glass jar in the challenge of the single dose

In this second episode, it’s the plastic tube‘s turn. A challenge particularly felt in the summer, when you spend whole days away from home, on the beach or in the mountains, bringing all the necessary products, from mosquito repellent to sunscreen, from snacks to ointments for the little ones. 

If with the glass jar we also found common green points, in comparison with the plastic tube the difference in positions is clearly noticeable. 

So here are 6 good reasons why, when buying a product, it is better to choose the aluminium tube than a plastic tube:    

1 – Aluminium is infinitely recyclable: it is estimated that 75% of the aluminium produced in the world so far is still in use today, in contrast, only 9% of plastic is recyclable. In this scenario, the use of an almost infinitely recyclable material has value in itself and in the eyes of consumers. Aluminium has an appeal not only for the environment but also for the production efficiency it guarantees: there is no loss in its reuse process. Plastics, on the other hand, are among the waste that is most often found dispersed in nature: it can take up to 1000 years for them to be disposed of in the environment. Nowadays, plastic waste pollutes most natural environments. Some studies estimate that there are up to 150 tonnes of plastic in the oceans and that, if production continues as it is today, plastics could reach 34 billion tonnes by 2050, of which at least 12 tonnes would constitute waste scattered in the environment. 

It should be reiterated that the “fault” of this contamination is not the plastic itself (which can be used in many ways and also to produce durable goods) but its mismanagement, both by companies and end users. However, it remains a reality we have to deal with and the best solution, as far as possible, is to achieve a radical reduction in plastics production, replacing it with other more sustainable materials, such as aluminium. Using “half measures”, such as the recyclable plastic chosen by many cosmetics companies, is no longer sufficient.  

2 – While it has a clear environmental advantage, the aluminium tube is also extremely effective in protecting the contents inside against intense sunlight. Think, for example, of a sunscreen, which stays with us on the beach all day long! And that’s not all: aluminium is also extremely effective against air and environmental contamination in general, all fundamental characteristics, especially at a time when all consumers are looking for safety in packaging.  

 3 – From the point of view of the use of the product, the tube is certainly a winning format, but the plastic one cannot be rolled up and squeezed to use the product to the last drop, which is possible with the aluminum tube. Take for example a tube foundation.   

4 – Cosmetics, especially “beach” cosmetics, are often, inexplicably, very large.  It’s not a question of specific weight but of packaging choices: the choice to oversize products in the name of the alleged “convenience format” is a “vice” that manufacturers have been carrying around for decades. However, even for cosmetics there is a period after opening (PAO) which means that they too have a time frame within which they must be used. This is why the sunscreen left over from a beach or mountain holiday cannot be stored and used the following year. Why waste it when you can choose differently? The aluminium tube is often considered more “agile” and used for the packaging of medium sized products, lighter to carry around and much more suitable for short-term use (such as sun creams or after-sun creams). 

5 – It’s easy to say plastic, but there are many different polymers. Each one of them requires a specific collection and recycling process, which makes recovery complicated. With aluminium, however, you can’t go wrong! It always goes into dedicated separate collection according to the instructions of each individual municipality and the recovered aluminium is always 100% recycled. 

6 – The aluminium tube is safe: it is no coincidence that it is the reference packaging in the pharmaceutical sector, where there are very high-quality standards to be respected. Since it is deformable, after squeezing it does not allow air to enter inside, while the traditional plastic tube, which always resumes its original shape, “sucks” air that accumulates in the “tail”, in direct contact with the product inside! This exposes it more to contamination and, inevitably, to oxidation. This is why natural cosmetics, which have a reduced content of preservatives, prefer the aluminium tube!   

If you are curious about the peculiarities of the aluminium tube, or you are undecided in the choice between aluminium tubes or plastic tubes, please contact us: we will be happy to help you find the aluminium packaging strategy that best suits your needs. 

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