Global Recycling Day 2020

Global Recycling Day 2020

The 18th of March 2020, marks global recycling day. Which is as good an opportunity as any to talk about recycling in general. And Pink & Green’s packaging in particular – and we’d love for you to engage with us on this topic.

The global recycling website states that, each year, billions of tonnes of the earth’s natural resources get turned into consumables. And that such resources are finite. Global Recycling Day came into being in 2018 to help recognize the importance of recycling in protecting our primary resources.

So, we all need to recycle more and everything will be fine right? Well, I imagine you know what’s coming next. Would that it were that easy. Recycling, one can argue, is something of a red herring in the whole saving the planet story.

Global Recycling Day 2020 - a conceptual blue and green globe

It’s a complex issue

If you saw the 2019 BBC TV series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall examining recycling you’ll know what I’m talking about. Mr FW found plastic, abandoned by UK consumers, piled high in Malaysia.

It’s evident that, like so many things, nothing is as black and white as we might wish. Our use and disposal of resources is a complex debate. One that challenges and exercises me for one. If you start to do a full green audit of materials that one might substitute for plastic say, it soon becomes clear how complicated it is.

Global Recycling Day 2020 - Asian boy surrounded by rubbish

Alternatives to plastic containers

Obvious alternatives to plastic containers are glass or aluminium. Both glass and aluminium are easier to recycle than plastic. So, an obvious substitute then yes? Not so fast. As others have discovered when they experimented with different containers – it’s not as simple as it looks. Take aluminium bottles for example – sadly not the wonderful solution to plastic or glass that they appear to be.

The reason being that, to prevent them getting damaged, they need more packaging around them. So, you’ve got their recyclability outweighed straight away. And that’s not all. making aluminium takes much more energy than plastic production.

The reason being that, to prevent them getting damaged, they need more packaging around them. So, you’ve got their recyclability outweighed straight away. And that’s not all. Making aluminium takes much more energy than plastic production.

But when it comes to packaging, aluminium jars are less problematic because there is strength in their shape.

Ten Green Bottles

Glass presents similar problems when it comes to skin care and cosmetics.

  1. Glass is heavy. Ergo it’s expensive to ship.
  2. It needs extra packing so it doesn’t break.
  3. Limited choice of closures – and they still have to be plastic
  4. Yes, we can recycle glass. But it’s an energy heavy process.

Cardboard in your compost

One material that IS easy to recycle and reuse is cardboard. Yet 7 million tonnes of the stuff gets sent to landfill every year. But did you know that you can compost your cardboard? The Tiny Box Company points out that cardboard is the gardener’s best friend. It’s carbon rich and that makes it brilliant for balancing compost.

Both corrugated and flat cardboard (cereal boxes and shoe boxes) are suitable for composting.

Pink & Green’s packaging credentials

At this point then, you might be wondering how our own packaging credentials stack up. Well – for the most part you can recycle the containers and boxes we use.

Our brown boxes you can recycle or compost as described above. And our plastic bottles and jars are PET plastic. PET plastics are recyclable, enabling repeated resuse. Though of course, as we’ve seen, plastic isn’t always getting recycled as it should. We’re ever hopeful that bioPET will evolve such that consumers can compost them. How amazing would that be?

All that said, we acknowledge we have some problem areas.

Our problem areas

For instance, our one balm and facial exfoliator currently comes to you in a pump made from plastic with a metal spring. The design of the pump renders it impossible to take apart and leaves some product in it. So not recyclable. We need to address this.

Recycled materials form our large black gift boxes so we’re half-way there. And they’re ripe for upcycling projects. But that’s not good enough. And, because the ink used to colour them renders them unrecyclable, we’re seeking to swap them to a craft paper alternative. One that you can recycle, upcycle or compost.

It’s clear then from all this, that recycling is not a perfect panacea. We all need to find new ways forward. One thing we’re considering is refilling/reusing containers. With the PET containers that should be easier than glass. They’re lighter and easier to clean and reuse. Re-used plastic could be our friend not our enemy.

A penny for your thoughts

Do you have any other thoughts and/or ideas about how we can improve our packaging? For global recycling day and beyond. Do talk to us – we’d love to hear from you.

Find all our contact details here.

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