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Choosing packaging to protect and preserve your lawn and garden products

The type of packaging you choose for lawn and gardening products will have a significant impact on your planting and yard work experience. Lawn and garden products require safe and durable packaging, and flexible packaging provides just that! Below are 3 key benefits of choosing garden and lawn products stored in flexible packaging. 

  1. Flexible packaging extends shelf life 

Flexible packaging is designed with different barrier and seal features that protect and preserve the products inside of the package. Both features work to prevent potentially harmful elements, such as moisture and insects, from entering the package and damaging the products inside. By choosing soil, mulch or other items in flexible packaging, your lawn and garden products will be protected from any potential damage, and they will last longer.

  1. Resealable flexible packaging is easy to use and creates less mess 

Lawn and gardening is no easy job, but selecting products in flexible, resealable packaging provides a hassle-free experience. By choosing potting soil, fertilizer, and seed in resealable flexible packaging, you won’t have to worry about any spills or leaks, and the products will be much easier to pour in lightweight packaging! 

  1. Flexible packaging is environmentally friendly 

Flexible packaging not only protects the products inside of the packaging, but it also helps protect our environment!  Its low carbon impact, fossil fuel usage, water usage, and amount of material to landfill all contribute to flexible packaging’s environmental attributes. Not to mention, flexible packaging has a high product-to-package ratio, meaning you’ll be using the least amount of packaging necessary for the products you use to care for your lawn and garden!

Flexible packaging offers many benefits for lawn and garden products. Not only does it protect products and extend shelf-life, it also uses less energy to manufacture, reduces shipping costs, and sends fewer materials to landfills. Interested in learning more about flexible packaging and its sustainability benefits? Check out our resources here!

Are plastic bag bans helping our environment?

Grocery stores are banning plastic bags in hopes of saving our environment. Since 2007, over 240 cities and counties have passed laws that ban or tax plastic bags. However, many fail to consider the negative impacts that plastic bans have on the environment. In order to fully understand the best solution, we must consider where ocean pollution comes from, and look at the environmental impact of plastic bans. 

Where does ocean pollution come from? 

Before supporting the ban of plastic bags to protect our oceans, consider where the majority of ocean pollution comes from and research the amounts and types of plastic that result in trash. Which countries are most responsible? Countries in Asia and South America that have not developed proper solid waste and recovery systems contribute most to plastic waste into oceans. Lack of proper waste systems often result in plastic that flows from rivers into our oceans. 

A September 2015 study by the Ocean Conservancy found that 60% of global marine debris originates from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) New Plastics Economy Report, the United States and Europe combined only contribute approximately 2% of plastic leakage into oceans. In fact, a recent study in the North Pacific Ocean looked at an estimated 42,000 tons of mega plastics, and found that fishing nets accounted for 86%. 

What happens when we ban plastic bags? 

Plastic bag bans result in people using more paper bags and cotton totes, which are not better for the environment. Did you know the carbon footprint of a paper bag is 4x higher than a plastic bag? Research shows that plastic bags have more sustainable benefits than paper bags from a manufacturing, reusability, solid waste, and generation standpoint. Visit our recent blog post to learn more about the environmental impact of plastic versus paper.

Rebecca Taylor’s study, Bag Leakage: The Effect of Disposable Carryout Bag Regulations on Unregulated Bags, found that after California’s 2016 ban on plastic shopping bags, the sale of large trash bags that contain more plastic skyrocketed, so approximately 30% of plastic eliminated by the ban came back in the form of garbage bags. In addition, cities that participated in the ban saw a surge in the use of paper bags, which resulted in an estimated 80 million pounds of extra trash per year.        

Striving for a circular economy

People often fail to consider the full lifecycle of plastic products, and fail to research the negative impacts that plastic bans have on the environment. According to the U.S. EPA Waste Management Hierarchy, the most environmentally preferred strategy for waste management is source reduction and reuse. This means using less resources to produce and the ability to be reused. Thin, lightweight plastic bags that use less resources and materials are often referred to as single use products. However, plastic bags are in fact reused everyday by many people, which is why California saw a large increase in the purchase of trash bags after they initiated a ban on plastic shopping bags. Visit here to learn more about a circular economy for plastic in which it never becomes waste. 

    


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.


Sustainability Benefits of Motor Oil Packaged In Flexible Packaging

Motor oil is a necessity, regardless of what you’re driving. But have you ever considered the packaging it comes in? Each year, an estimated 180 million gallons of used motor oil goes into the ground, down sewers and into landfills. We encourage you to check out the sustainability benefits of different motor oil packages before you make your next purchase.

In this packaging case study, motor oil in flexible stand-up pouches with fitments and rigid HDPE bottle formats were evaluated for their environmental impacts, with a full beginning to end life cycle.

When comparing the water consumption, carbon impact, and material disposal position within a full life cycle of the two packages, the case study found:

  • Water Consumption: The HDPE bottle uses 6x more water than the flexible stand-up pouch, mainly during the material development stage.
  • Carbon Impact: 
    • The rigid HDPE bottle emits 1.5x more greenhouse gas emissions than the stand-up flexible pouch.
    • Rigid HDPE bottles are recycled at a rate of 34.4%, but 2x more material ends up in landfills compared to the flexible stand-up pouch. 
  • Fossil Fuel Consumption: The rigid HDPE bottle weighs about 3x more than the flexible stand-up pouch and uses 173% more fossil fuel resources. 

The U.S. EPA Waste Hierarchy cites source reduction, or using less resources in production, as the preferred method for waste management. While both packages enable efficiency through high product-to-package ratios, the flexible stand-up pouch comes out ahead. Flexible stand-up pouches use less water and energy to produce and require fewer trucks for shipping, providing an eco-friendly package for motor oil. 

When evaluating recovery benefits, the study found:

  • Stand-up flexible pouches send far less materials to landfills than rigid HDPE bottles, which result in almost 2x more material ending up as municipal solid waste. 
  • The rigid HDPE bottle’s recycling rate would need to jump from 34.4% to 64% to have the same net discards as the stand-up flexible pouch.

As you can see, motor oil packaged in stand-up flexible pouches is more environmentally friendly and sustainable in terms of fossil fuel usage, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and materials landfilled. Not to mention, the flexible stand-up pouch can be completely emptied, rolled up, and disposed of in a fraction of the space of used bottles, which are not often recycled because of oil residue. 

To view the complete motor oil flexible packaging life cycle assessment case study, visit flexpack.org. For more information and methodologies of the assessments, visit www.flexpack.org to download Flexible Packaging Association’s “A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World” report and refer to pages 129-167.


The Sustainability Benefits of Cat Litter Packaged in Flexible Packaging

Cat litter is essential for most cat owners. It helps to prevent strong odors from flowing through homes and it provides cats with a safe place to use the bathroom. But, have you ever considered the packaging cat litter comes in? Because it is a heavy product that needs to remain moisture free, cat litter requires strong and reliable packaging.

In this life cycle assessment case study, three types of cat litter packaging were compared for their sustainability benefits and impact on the environment from a full beginning to end-of-life cycle. When comparing a flexible stand-up bag, a paperboard barrier carton and a rigid plastic pail with handle, the case study revealed the following:

Water Consumption 

  • The paperboard barrier carton uses 3,573% more water than the flexible stand-up bag.
  • The rigid plastic pails’ water footprint is 1,370% higher than the stand-up bag in flexible packaging.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Compared to the flexible stand-up bag, the paperboard barrier carton emits 331% more greenhouse gas emissions and the rigid pail emits 996% more.

Fossil Fuel Consumption:

  • The paperboard barrier carton uses 69.6% more fossil fuel than the flexible stand-up bag due to the carton’s weight and energy needed in the paper making process.
  • In comparison to the stand-up bag in flexible packaging, the rigid pail requires 11x as much material and uses 1,429% more fossil fuel in manufacturing.

Cat litter packaged in flexible packaging also has significant recovery and source reduction benefits. This means it uses less resources to produce, and it is able to be reused. According to the U.S. EPA Waste Hierarchy, the most preferred method for waste management is source reduction!

The flexible stand-up bag sends approximately 9x less material to landfills than the paperboard barrier carton, and about 12x less material by weight than the rigid pail, even considering the recycling rate of the pail.

The recycling rate of the plastic rigid pail and its lid would need to jump from 11.1% to 90% to have the same amount of material sent to landfills as the flexible stand-up bag. The stand-up bag in flexible packaging also has a higher product-to-package ratio compared to the barrier carton and the rigid pail.

Next time you purchase cat litter, why not consider its impact on the environment along with its impact on you and your feline friend’s home. Cat litter in flexible packaging is a more environmentally friendly and sustainable choice than other types of packaging.  Its low carbon impact, fossil fuel usage, water usage, and amount of material to landfill all contribute to flexible packaging’s environmental benefits!

To view the full cat litter case study, visit flexpack.org. For more information and methodologies of assessments, click here to download Flexible Packaging Association’s “A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World” report and refer to pages 129-167.

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