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Sustainability of Laundry Detergent Pods

Laundry detergent pods are favored by many consumers due to their lack of mess and precise measuring, which makes the process of doing laundry much easier. When taking a closer look, have you considered the larger packaging that carries the laundry pods we’ve all grown to love? Stand-up pouches with zippers and round PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic containers are two popular options that people commonly purchase. We urge you to check out the sustainability benefits of each before choosing which one to purchase. 

In this laundry detergent pod packaging study, both stand-up flexible pouches and rigid PET plastic containers were assessed for their environmental impacts from the beginning to the end of their life cycles. When comparing the water consumption, carbon impact, and material disposal position within a full life cycle of the two packaging options, the case study found the following:                 

  • Water Consumption: The rigid PET container uses +660% more water than the stand-up flexible pouch

 

  • Carbon Impact: The PET container emits +726% more greenhouse gases than the flexible pouch with zipper. 
  • Fossil Fuel Consumption: The PET container’s fossil fuel usage is nearly 504% higher than the flexible stand-up pouch and the package weight is 6 times heavier.

The U.S. EPA Waste Hierarchy cites source reduction, or using less resources to produce, and reuse, as the preferred method to reduce overall waste. The stand-up flexible pouch uses less water and energy to produce and it is lighter and more efficient for shipping purposes. This helps to reduce waste before it even has the chance to start!

When evaluating recovery benefits, the study found that the PET container sends 4x more material to landfills than the stand-up flexible pouch. The recycling rate of the PET container and its cap would need to jump from 30% to over 80% to match the flexible pouch’s amount of landfilled material. 

As you can see, the stand-up flexible pouch is a more sustainable option for laundry pod packaging. Its low carbon impact, fossil fuel usage, water usage, and amount of material in landfills all contribute to flexible packaging’s environmental benefits. 

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