We are facing multiple dilemmas when making packaging more sustainable. Often there is not one clear answer to the question: ‘what is the most sustainable solution?’. Sometimes dilemmas can be solved by new research studies or innovations. This page gathers and shares dilemmas that many organisations have to deal with. If the dilemma has been resolved, it will be shown here. You can also submit new dilemmas.
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In general, biodegradable packaging materials can be broken down in industrial composting facilities if these meet the requirements of the EN 13432 standard. Contrary to popular belief, biodegradable plastics cannot currently be broken down in the natural environment. The breakdown process of biodegradeble plastic is largely dependent on the environment: temperature, the presence of microorganisms, the presence of oxygen and water. So, when biodegradable plastic ends up in the sea, it does not decay by itself.
More information about biodegradeble plastics can be found here.
Respond to dilemma
One of the potential solutions to make packaging more sustainable is to switch from single use to reuse. Reusable packaging has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. However, with the exception of a number of packaging types, reuse is still in its infancy. One of the challenges is to assure food safety and good hygiene of reused packaging.
More information about reusable packaging can be found here.
Respond to dilemma
Over the past decades, material innovations have led to a wide diversity in plastic types and combinations. These different plastics each have their own functionalities and properties. However, these materials are often difficult to recycle, such as laminate packaging. It is important that the product is sufficiently protected by the packaging, in which case functionality comes first. In addition, it is also important to take the recyclability of packaging into account in the design.