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7 Benefits of Flexible Packaging

Do you consider the benefits of packaging when shopping for products? Research by the Flexible Packaging Association reveals that shoppers seek packaging that provides convenience, product safety, and longer shelf life. Flexible packaging provides all of this and more! Check out these 7 key benefits below!

Protects your products

Flexible packaging features a multi-layer construction that keeps food safe, keeps oxygen out, and keeps aroma in. Each layer works to prevent and reduce spoilage by keeping products together, ensuring fresh food for you to enjoy. Flexible packaging is resistant to denting and breakage, so it protects products throughout the shipping process!

Reduces food waste

Flexible packaging simultaneously protects and extends the shelf life of products without the use of preservatives. As shelf life increases, food waste decreases. This is a key benefit, as food waste is a major challenge in the United States, where approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown away annually. Visit this link to see how dramatic the impact is for a number of everyday foods stored in flexible packaging!

Material and resource efficiency

Compared to traditional forms of packaging, flexible packaging can be made with less material, so it conserves resources and contributes to sustainability. It also requires fewer trucks for shipping and uses less energy to transport. This means conservation begins before you even purchase it!  

Sends less materials to landfills

Although some materials such as glass and steel are recycled at higher rates than flexible packaging, they are bulky and send more package material to landfills than flexibles. Because flexible packaging is lightweight, made with fewer raw materials than traditional forms of packaging, and has recycling capabilities, less plastic ends up in landfills!

Convenience is KING

Flexible packaging can go places that other packaging cannot. It is easy to open, carry, reseal, and store! You can easily throw it in your bag and take it with you on the go. Since it is lightweight and easy to store, it also saves space in your kitchen and throughout other areas of your home. 

Reusable

Along with reducing food waste and being environmentally friendly, flexible packaging is also reusable!  According to the U.S. EPA Waste Hierarchy, the most preferred method for waste management is using fewer resources to produce and reusing the packaging. There are many ways to reuse flexible packaging. Get started today by checking out our blog post for 16 ways to reuse flexible packaging.

Recyclable

In the U.S., approximately half of all flexible packaging can be recycled into new packaging or be recycled through in-store drop-off programs. Single layer polyethylene (PE) films can be recycled through the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) by leaving items at your local flexible packaging recycling location. Research is progressing on many fronts to develop additional recycling solutions that we can expect to see in the near future. Use the TerraCycle database to quickly find the best local recycling options and drop-off locations near you! 

The features of flexible packaging make life more convenient. It’s easy to store, open, reseal, and carry. Best of all, it extends product shelf life and provides positive benefits to the environment! To learn more about flexible packaging, visit our resources page for more information.


Flexible Packaging Aids in Winter Storm Preparedness

With cold weather upon us, it is crucial to be prepared for what winter brings. The last thing anyone wants is to be stranded in a winter storm and not be prepared. Did you know that many winter necessities can be purchased in flexible packaging? Best of all, flexible packaging is lighter, requires less space to store, and keeps your products safe!  Here are a few products to consider when assembling your winter emergency kit. 

Motor and Engine Oil

These flexible pouches are great for emergency oil needs because they are easy to use and store. They require no funnel or other tools, take up less space, and the flexible packaging protects oil from moisture and puncturing. Best of all, flexible pouches use less water and energy to produce and require fewer trucks for shipping, providing an eco-friendly package for motor oil. Learn more about the sustainability benefits of motor oil packaged in flexible pouches in our Life Cycle Assessment case study blog.

Emergency Flares

Traveling during a winter storm can be risky, but sometimes unavoidable. Keep emergency flares in your vehicle to avoid a dangerous situation where you’re unable to call for help during bad weather conditions. Handheld flares can be purchased in resealable flexible plastic bags and can be easily and safely stored in your car to have in case you’re stuck in an emergency situation. 

Cat Litter

Stocking up on cat litter can be a smart move, not just to keep your pet happy, but to prepare for a winter storm. Cat litter can be used to prevent vehicles from getting stuck in snow or ice. Best of all, cat litter in flexible stand up bags are easy to pour and resealable for use over and over again. They are also more environmentally friendly and sustainable than other types of cat litter packaging. Learn more about the convenience and environmental benefits of cat litter in flexible packaging by reading our Life Cycle Assessment case study blog. 

Non-Perishable Snacks 

Plan ahead and keep a food kit stored in your car for emergencies. A short-term preparedness kit should include water and non-perishable foods. There are a number of prepared foods that come in flexible packaging: including tuna, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, and baby food. Not only are these items convenient as a grab-n-go option with little preparation, they are shelf-stable so the flexible packaging will protect the food from spoilage even with the temperature variants of a car. They also provide positive, sustainable benefits to the environment as well. Check out our Life Cycle Assessment case study blog to learn more about the sustainable benefits of baby food in flexible pouches. 

By stocking up with these winter items in flexible packaging, you will be better prepared by whatever weather comes your way, and your products will be protected from the harsh effects of cold weather!


Ways to Reuse Flexible Plastic Bags for Home Organization

January marks the start of achieving new goals for many. A popular resolution on people’s list is getting organized at home. Whether it’s a cluttered refrigerator or freezer, messy laundry room or a chaotic garage, organizing your space is easily achievable.

Consider the countless plastic bags you purchase that contain perfectly stored products sealed shut. Before throwing the bags away, think about the many piles of items lying around your home. Those items could simply be placed back into the bag, protected and easily accessed with resealable features such as zippers. 

Ready to get organized and achieve a clean look for your home in 2020? Check out the following tips for reusing flexible plastic bags for home organization.

Kitchen Pantry or Fridge

Store your vegetables, frozen meats, or other loose items in plastic bags. Not only do they keep products nicely organized and grouped together, they also extend shelf life! If you plan on reusing plastic bags to store sensitive food items such as raw meats or produce, visit this link for tips on washing, drying, and storing used plastic bags. 

Laundry room

Do you check pockets for loose change and other items before throwing clothes into the wash? Or find change inside of the wash after the cycle is complete? Laundry detergent pods packaged in flexible stand-up pouches provide an easy storage solution for what you find. Because the package is resealable, you won’t have to worry about loose items falling out of the package once stored. 

Garage

Tools are typically stored in garages, and this often results in loose screws, nails, or other items lying around. These are the products you don’t want out in the open as they can be dangerous to children and pets. Use flexible plastic bags to organize loose tools and other items. Today’s technology allows for flexible packaging to be manufactured for durability, so both your tools and your family will be protected. 

Start getting your home organized today by reusing flexible plastic bags. Along with achieving your goals for the new year, you will also help to protect the environment as well! 

Environmental Impact of Plastic vs. Paper

As consumers become more engaged in the conversation surrounding plastic and the increasingly serious litter problems, especially in areas like Asia, the UK, and elsewhere, it is important that we understand the entire life cycle of all packaging including plastics, paper, cardboard, etc. 

According to The Future of Flexible Packaging to 2024 report, there is mounting public pressure on brand owners and retailers to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. Brand owners are responding to these concerns with a mission of not only reducing the amount of food waste, but more importantly, accelerate the move to a sustainable, resource-efficient circular economy

For many, it is believed that paper bags are more environmentally friendly than plastic bags because they are made from a renewable resource, can biodegrade, and are recyclable. However, scientific research shows just the opposite. Plastic bags outperform paper bags environmentally – on manufacturing, on reuse, and on solid waste volume and generation. Paper products take substantial amounts of energy to make, making paper and cardboard the third largest industry use of energy on the planet. In comparison to cardboard, plastic is lighter and more durable and less energy intensive to manufacture.

Conclusions from the 2005 Scottish Report states that “[A] paper bag has a more adverse impact than a plastic bag for most of the environmental issues considered. Areas where paper bags score particularly badly include water consumption, atmospheric acidification (which can have effects on human health, sensitive ecosystems, forest decline and acidification of lakes) and eutrophication of water bodies (which can lead to the growth of algae and depletion of oxygen). Paper bags are anywhere between six to ten times heavier than lightweight plastic carrier bags and, as such, require more transport and its associated costs. They would also take up more room in a landfill if they were not recycled.”

When you consider the entire life cycle of packaging, paper and cardboard represent far greater environmental impact than their plastic equivalents.  A recent ULS report comparing plastic and paper bags concluded that:

  1. Plastic bags generate 39% less greenhouse gas emissions than uncomposted paper bags and 68% less greenhouse gas emissions than composted paper bags. 
  2. Plastic bags consume less than 6% of the water needed to make paper bags. It takes 1,004 gallons of water to produce 1,000 paper bags and 58 gallons of water to produce 1,500 plastic bags.
  3. Plastic grocery bags consume 71% less energy during production than paper bags. Significantly, even though traditional disposable plastic bags are produced from fossil fuels, the total non-renewable energy consumed during their lifecycle is up to 36% less than the non-renewable energy consumed during the lifecycle of paper bags and up to 64% less than that consumed by biodegradable plastic bags.
  4. Using paper bags generates five times more solid waste than using plastic bags.
  5. After four or more uses, reusable plastic bags are superior to all types of disposable bags — paper, polyethylene, and compostable plastic, across all significant environmental indicators.

To learn more about the sustainability of plastic and flexible packaging, visit here

The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program in Cobb County is making “TONS” of progress

In November 2018, Cobb County in Atlanta, Georgia launched a community level program administered through Keep America Beautiful known as the Hefty® EnergyBag® program. As part of Cobb County’s existing waste management infrastructure, the program was a significant step to achieving positive long-term environmental and economic advantages, including fewer plastics ending up in landfills. 

How Does the Program Work?

Participating households place their hard-to-recycle plastics in Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags. Once full, residents tie the bags and place them in their curbside recycling carts or bins during their regularly-scheduled recycling pick-up.

Participants’ current haulers pick up the tied Hefty® bags along with their regular recycling materials and send them to a local materials recovery facility (MRF) for sorting. The MRF then bales the bags and sends them to a local energy recovery facility, which converts plastics into valuable resources.

Program Benefits

The Hefty® EnergyBag® program provides many environmental and economic benefits, including:

  • The diversion of valuable resources from landfills

  • The conversion of waste into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes

  • Improved efficiency of existing mechanical recycling programs by reducing the amount of hard-to-recycle materials going to materials recovery facilities, ultimately improving the quality of recycled materials such as paper and cardboard

  • Potential cost savings that aid in the decrease of waste management costs

  • The reduction of fossil fuels extracted from the ground

  • Increased consumer engagement and education of resource recovery

The Results

Within 10 months of program launch, more than 20,000 residents expressed interest in participating, involving additional recycling haulers. Within that time, participating residents have diverted more than 33.6 tons of materials that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

Looking Ahead

In late November 2019, Cobb County started phase 2 of the program to engage another 15,000 households, making the program available to new communities with additional haulers throughout Cobb County.

Learn more about the Hefty® EnergyBag® program here.

Find Your Local Flexible Packaging Recycling Location