Biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, recycled: the features of sustainable packaging.

Packaging materials became more important with the outbreak of the pandemic.   

Not that it hadn’t been discussed before, of course. But it is clear that the Covid era has reaffirmed the need to take care of the environment by adopting alternative solutions with the lowest impact possible.  

The motto ‘reduce, reuse and recycle‘ has long been emphasised, and we are all aware of it and try to apply it as much as possible.

However, the our planet’s health has been seriously compromised by decades of indiscriminate – and in some ways improper use – of certain materials, such as plastic, which has damaged the entire ecosystem and even threatened our health.  

Some manufacturers have quickly realised the problem’s gravity, investing in solutions with a reduced environmental impact. Consumers, too, have been called upon to make their own contribution: more sustainable purchases are promoted, waste is strongly discouraged and separate waste collection is now an established reality.

But this is not enough. Although there is a good effort to protect the planet, there is still a lot of confusion about the materials used in the production of eco-friendly packaging and their disposal.

Let’s make it clear.

Many ways to be sustainable   

Let’s look into the world of sustainability and give some clarification, distinguishing the nature of the materials that normally makeup products defined as “eco-friendly“. 

Maybe the definition of recyclable is the one most misunderstood.  Recyclable material is defined as one that can be re-used in another way after use, thanks to appropriate transformation processes. Examples are glass, paper and cardboard, aluminium, plastic and wood. Products defined as ‘recyclable’ are therefore made using ‘virgin’ raw materials – i.e. never used before – or containing a certain amount of post-consumer recycled material. 

This word is often confused – if not used as a synonym – with recycled. But the differences are significant: a recycled waste has been partially or entirely composed of materials that have been given a second life. Recycled materials can in fact be nature’s waste, derived from eco-friendly cleaning and disposal, or even be the result of reusing plastic. This allows the conservation of natural resources.  

And biodegradable? 

A material is defined as biodegradable if it is dissolved into its chemical elements by the action of microorganisms, sunlight, or other atmospheric agents under natural conditions. 
In order for a material to be considered biodegradable, the element must be completely absorbed into the ground, at different times and in different ways, depending on the material involved.  

It differs significantly from the definition of compostable: a material that, after dissolving, becomes compost (the result of an aerobic biostabilisation process that leads to the formation of a “humified” substance comparable to hummus) and can therefore be used as a fertilizer to enrich the ground. In addition, the material must be able to decompose into smaller pieces than 2 mm, free of eco-toxic substances and low in heavy metals and fluorinated compounds. Composting is an excellent alternative to avoid disposing of waste in landfills or using expensive and polluting incinerators. In some countries, home composting also offers the possibility of a reduction in municipal waste tax. 

So, for waste to be defined as compostable, it must inevitably be biodegradable. On the contrary, a biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable because, for example, it may not decompose within the established time frame, i.e. maximum of 3 months.

Why is the Favia aluminium tube a sustainable choice for your packaging?

ToBeNatural: An aluminium collapsible tube with a compostable cap

Aluminium packaging is the ideal choice for manufacturers who want to make sustainability their strength.

Aluminium is naturally present in the environment as bauxite and is the third most common material on earth after oxygen and silicon. But that’s not all.

Producing aluminium from recycled material requires 95% less energy than producing it from raw material, and it can be recycled countless times at lower cost and with reduced environmental impact.

But there is more we can do.

In an aluminium tube, the only weak point in terms of sustainability is the cap, which is usually made of plastic.

Plastic is also recyclable, but its recycling process is not comparable to that of aluminium as regards environmental impact.

To satisfy the growing demand for 100% sustainable packaging, we have developed ToBeNatural, an aluminium tube with a cap made of compostable materials, which retains its integrity for a long time, but has the capacity to degrade completely at the end of its use cycle.

For more information, visit this page or contact us using the form!

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