Plastic packaging has gotten a bad name over the last few decades. Environmentalists relish in hating them and speak often of the harm they are doing to our planet and the creatures that live here. The truth is not so clear cut and advances have been made to drastically improve it and reduce any negative impact on the environment and help people live longer. New developments such as new packaging sleeves and pouches for food storage can be very beneficial to the environment.
Consider these facts. Most Americans recycle their plastic bottles, nearly 94% live in a place where that is available to them. Nearly 10 gallons of a liquid, such as life saving water, can be delivered in a flexible plastic container that weighs only 1.5 pounds. It would take more than three pounds of aluminum to do the same job.
Plastic products have a long life expectancy than many other products. The combination of their weight and durability make them nearly perfect for people who have to walk five miles each way to get fresh water. Nearly 783 million people do not currently have access to clean, non-contaminated water. This causes between six and eight million deaths a year, many in children. Diarrhea kills more children under five that HIV, malaria and TB combined. Flexible plastic products can help these people transport more water to their families and prevent some of that suffering.
In terms of the environment, one of the leading causes of methane release is food waste. Americans waste nearly a quarter of the food they buy. When it ends up in a landfill, it produces the methane. One of the main causes of food waste is contamination. Lighter flexible plastic food packaging prevents this and lowers the amount of food waste by as much as 1.7 pounds. Storing soon in plastic pouches reduces and with flexible packaging sleeves can lower the chance of food contamination. Flexible packaging sleeves such as tamper evident bands with a food or beverage cut down on that further.
Another cause of food waste is spoilage. Beef, for instance, will last much longer in a plastic package than a paper bag. There are new flexible packaging products that can keep a food like that refrigerated for as much as a few weeks. If you think about the amount of CO2 that is produced by beef production and that people toss as much as 8 million cows away because the meat spoiled, reducing meal waste is another very good benefit to using plastic. Using these products that extend the lifespan of food we transport can help feed many more people, stretching our planet’s resources farther and further reducing damage to the environment.
Plastic packaging and products are often viewed as unnatural and it has been thought that their proliferation is really the problem. If you look at the new products and compare how much they weigh and can carry with other materials, you see that you can carry a lot more, using a lot less if you use plastic packaging. That means less waste in landfills. The added bonus is it also means less food waste in landfills and less methane to heat up the atmosphere.