Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

For good reason, retailers and companies are increasingly concerned with the re-usability of packaging. Using materials that can be recycled and reused is not only good for the environment, but a selling point to eco-conscious customers. Recycling thermoformed packaging is one reason Sunrise Packaging loves promoting our thermoforming processes, but not the only one.

We turned to the current industry analysis and trends on industrial thermoform packaging material market to find out why this style of customized inserts and packaging is rapidly increasing in popularity.

Reasons to Love Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

It’s good for the globe.

Recycling plastic leads to a robust second life for a variety of products (see what kinds of plastics can be recycled). With the majority of thermoformed materials meeting the requirements for recycling initiatives, it allows consumers to buy with confidence. On a grander scale, it reduces greenhouse gasses and pollution, as well as the waste filling up dumps and natural environments. 

It’s good for the consumer.

And in more ways than you might think. It takes less energy to make products from recycled plastic than it does using virgin materials. It saves on oil, which in turn makes more oil available for heating homes and other uses. That’s just one example of how recycling thermoformed packaging helps the collective and not just individuals.

It’s good for your organization.

Thermoforming has a lot of advantages. It’s ligthweight but solid. It’s environmentally-friendly while providing stiff storage for products. Additionally, more and more products require the versatility offered by custom plastic packaging. Wood and glass can’t promise a moisture-free, odor-free environment that also blocks light. Oh, and while keeping weight and shipping costs down. 

Upcycling For The Greater Good

Upcycling‘ is becoming an increasingly popular term to further clarify recycling. It means taking a product and reusing it for a new purpose. But in such a way that creates a product of higher quality or value. It’s not exactly a new idea–there must have been some inventive upcycling going on through the Great Depression, right?–but it’s gained traction in our eco-friendly society. 

Choosing packaging that can be re-purposed is more than just a fiscal decision. As people become more educated about making choices, trends show that the demand for recyclable packaging will grow. Get ahead of the game by working with Sunrise Packaging to create recyclable thermoformed packaging!

6 Eco Friendly Ideas for Post-Consumer Corrugated Cardboard

 

cardboard-boxes1

So What Do You Do with Your Custom Corrugated Boxes After They Serve Their Purpose?

 

Recycle them, of course. That’s obvious. We all know that generating post-consumer waste is nearly unavoidable in the retail market, but corrugated cardboard is an eco friendly post-consumer fiber that is easily recycled. And it’s place in retail as light-but-durable packaging is widely celebrated.

 

But how are you going to recycle it? I’m not talking about the route you take to the recycling center. I’m talking about the step in between. You know about that step, right? The part where your post-consumer corrugated cardboard becomes the key to crafting? The doorway to imagination? I mean, you’ve heard about that, right?

 

Custom corrugated boxes are eco friendly. But they’re also kid friendly. You’ve seen it before: some birthday or Christmas where the box gets more mileage than the toy inside. Kids love cardboard. Parents: don’t be discouraged by this–embrace it! Get that kid a box and let them go hog wild!

 

Recently, I wrote about how corrugated cardboard has been vital to prototyping my own board game. Yes, the cardboard box has become coveted in my household. Brown Gold, we call it. But it got me thinking: there’s a lot of awesome ways for kids to use corrugated cardboard boxes that can be quite beneficial to their creativity (and the environment). Here’s a few, just off the top of my head.

 

Make a Puzzlepost-consumer corrugated cardboard for custom board games and puzzles

Puzzles are one of the most timeless toys in history. Going to the store to pick one out is fun…but how about making one? Take a piece of corrugated cardboard and either draw right on it, or glue on a picture. Flip it over and sketch out the pieces. The cutting part might need a little supervision–or maybe an adult with an Exacto knife–but at the end, you’ll have a thick, sturdy puzzle made to your exact specifications. Definitely a good project for a rainy afternoon.
 

Make a “Layer Sculpture”

Keep those scissors handy. Break down some corrugated cardboard boxes and cut out a base for your sculpture. Essentially, you’re going to become a 3-D printer, crafting your little statue layer by layer from the ground up. Stencil out the next piece so that it fits within the confines of the base, and so on and so on. Eventually with a little stacking and glue, you’ll have a layer sculpture. A castle spire, the Statue of Liberty. You can even make yourself that Academy Award you’ve always deserved.

 

Make a Giant Interactive Board Game

Now this use for corrugated cardboard will really get you moving around! Breakdown a repurposed cardboard box or two. Or three, or four, or five. (A good old B-Flute RSC Box would be perfect.) Use the flaps as spaces for a giant board game. Get out the markers and crayons to add rules and regulations to the spaces. Collect 200 Pennies or Win a Candy Bar or whatever! Half the fun of making a board game is making up the rules. And making a giant, fully-interactive board game that can go around the house, through the yard, or all of the above will definitely getting the creative motors running. And don’t forget the giant cardboard box dice! 

 

Make Room!

Sure this is fun for kids, but it’s also good for parents, right? Use some repurposed cardboard boxes to create a den of storage cubbies. Or turn existing shelving a little more personal and private by creating custom drawers for each member of the family. Everybody needs more space. Stack’em up and see that precious floor space you’ve been missing!

 

Make Stencils

I use this a lot in my board game design when I need to draw a particular shape or symbol over and over again. Take a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard and cut out a cool shape. Now you have a template for drawing shapes again and again, and the best part is they’ll be personalized to what you like drawing! Maybe you’re a 5-leaf clover fan, or partial to crescent moons! The options are endless!

 

Make a Robot

box bot, eco friendly idea for post-consumer corrugated cardboard

 

 

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t suggest making a robot to someone. But a custom box made of corrugated cardboard makes the perfect robot parts. 5 or 6 of them stacked together make for all the components of a robot. With very sizes and shapes of boxes, you can make a pretty unique bot. Make it a mini, or life-sized. Just try not to give it artificial intelligence–I’ve heard that ends poorly.

 

 

 

 

Whew! That should hold you for awhile, right? Two rainy saturdays, at the very least. These ideas are all fine and well, but it’s important to remember what it means for the environment. Every time you get a little more use out that custom packaging or corrugated box before the recycling bin, you’re contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. Granted the eco friendly nature of corrugated cardboard plays its part in that battle, but why not get something creative out of the deal while you’re at it? After all, it’s a lot easier to utilize something than figure out how to properly dispose of it.

 


 

Luxury Packaging Afterlife: The Post-Consumer Purpose

Post-Consumer Waste. What does it mean?

 

Simplified, it means what you do with the box after you’ve opened your purchase. Do you toss it in the trash? Or do you find a way to utilize it, repurpose it.

 

At Sunrise Packaging, we try to use recyclable materials whenever possible. Eco-binders made from recyclable material and utilizing eco friendly, vegetable-based ink. Aqueous print coatings preserve paper from yellowing, making products more reusable, and they’re water-based. Using grades of plastic for thermoforming that can be recycled. In fact, RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) is a polymer made using reclaimed post-consumer material.

recyclable corrugated cardboard cuts back on post-consumer waste

When you think about it, our packaging lends itself quite well to the fight against post-consumer waste. Even though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, luxury packaging and corrugated cardboard boxes can both cut back on post-consumer waste. How? Well, with a little imagination for starters.

 

Let’s start with luxury packaging. The brilliance of luxury packaging is that it’s not only eye-catching, it adds value to the product itself. The same upscale element that makes it attractive in stores, makes it somewhat of a keepsake in the post-consumer market. Fine packaging can be used and reused as gift boxes and storage long after they’ve served their purpose. I use a magnetic cigar-style box to hold the components of a board game I’m designing. It feels like an heirloom. That magnetic strip, the soft–touch lamination–that’s something I can proudly display on my bookshelf. Not meant for refuse.

repurposed magnetic cigar style box for board game design, turned edges, upscale, post-consumer

On the other side of the coin, rugged, durable corrugated cardboard–still a staple of modern packaging–is designed to be used again and again, and yet is recycled and recyclable. Now that’s eco friendly! Think of the last time you reused a corrugated cardboard box. I bet it wasn’t that long ago. Something always needs moving, lifting, or transporting. And cardboard, with its varying flutes, was there for you. While custom cardboard boxes don’t always have the flash of, let’s say, a rigid two-piece setup box, or the stiffness of a chipboard, but they are lightweight, disposable, and endlessly reusable.

 

 

Corrugated Cardboard and Rigid Chipboard: The Eco Friendly Odd Couple

 

Two different materials, used in different ways, both contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. One with staying power, and one that bows out gracefully when the time comes. It might take a little imagination–heck, it might take a lot of imagination–but there’s always an eco friendly (re)purpose for packaging, luxury or rugged. All things to consider for your next custom box or packaging project. Do you want to be the heirloom? Or the bottom of the bin?


 

 

Sustainable Plastic Packaging

RecyclePlastic[1]One of the biggest trends in the plastic packaging industry today is eco-friendliness, and that comes as no surprise. Consumers are highly interested in sustainable plastic packaging, even concerned about sustainability and the purchasing choices they make. Due to their demands in the retail market, packaging companies (including Sunrise Packaging) have had to improve their methods, designs, and materials. Recyclability and reusability are the top features that are beneficial to the consumer, so it is up to the packaging provider to develop packaging that is easy to reuse or recycle by the average person’s standards. To attain this standard in your retail packaging source, look for suppliers with recycled or recyclable materials. Also, packaging companies with in house tooling give you the opportunity to create a custom package which could include a locking or reseal able feature. By offering an added benefit, you increase the value of your product and gain a consistent consumer following.

Recyclers asked to stand up for plastics industry

plastics industry leadersIn major meeting of plastics recyclers in New Orleans, the message was delivered that recyclers can be playing a bigger role in letting the skeptical public know about the many advantages of plastics for the environment. Speakers at the meeting included Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. and Steve Russell, head of the American Chemistry Council’s plastics division. Some major key points of the meeting were:

-Carteaux urged recyclers to join SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep

– Russell mentioned efforts of the ACC supporting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban polystyrene food-service packaging.

– The positive impact that shale gas is having on the U.S. economy, specifically the plastics industry

Both of these industry leaders spoke about the critical role that plastics recyclers can play to help set the record straight about the benefits of plastics, and the advantages they bring for eco-friendly products supporters. Recyclers have a lot of credibility and their voice of support can improve the status of the plastics industry and production.

 

ALL Plastic Packaging to be Recycled by 2020?

The European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organization (EPRO) has recently backed claims of the possibility that ALL plastic packaging could be recycled by 2020. That means no more plastic in landfills which is an incredibly ambitious hope. The number of plastic that ends up in landfills across the globe each day is astronomical.

Right now in Europe, approximately 66% of plastic packaging is recycled with one-third of plastic packaging still going to landfill.

EPRO said in a statement: “A recovery rate of 100 per cent in 2020 for both plastic packaging and all other plastic waste is still possible; it is all about willingness and working together across the plastics supply chain to set the scene and move the agenda forward.”

Could this initiative also help the economy? “A strategy of 100% recovery of plastic waste might also contribute to an economic recovery of Europe and thus more jobs.”

In EPRO’s report, the following 16 nations recycled more than 30% of its plastic packaging waste in 2010: Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, UK and Lithuania.

At the other end of the list, countries recycling less than 22.5 per cent of their post-consumer plastic packaging were: Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Greece and Malta.

Schools Made Out Of Plastic Bottles

Bottle schools are schools built from “waste” plastic soda bottles & other inorganic trash. Entire communities work together, young & old, to make the dream of education reality.

A non-profit organization called Hug It Forward is the catalyst uniting these communities in Guatemala where  kids are being taught environmental education and adults learn different types of skilled labor. The result is a wonderful facility, which is a symbol of unity, to educate present and future generations. So far, 10 bottle schools have been built around Guatemala.

 

The first project in Granados, Guatemala, over 5,000 plastic bottles were used to build two classrooms, containing 2053lbs of trash and using 9720lbs of cement. 297 children and youth currently attend the school, which serves a municipality of 13,860 people throughout 95.75 square miles.

By building with “waste” materials, leveraging the volunteer labor of the community, and by ensuring that 100% of donations are spent on projects (no money is taken for overhead or salaries), Hug It Forward can build a two-classroom school for around $12,000.

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or products that cannot be recycled into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. This is a fairly new term in our increasingly eco-conscious world. Upcycling embraces uniqueness and creativity because upcycled products are truly one of a kind.

One of the pioneers of upcycling is TerraCycle. They are taking wasteful materials such as drink pouches, chip bags, and tooth brushes and making them into a variety of neat consumer products. TerraCycle’s products are available through a number of retailers including Wal-Mart and Target as well as online.

The goal of TerraCycle is to help eliminate waste. They run their own collection programs at many major retailers, theatres, stadiums, and restaurants. In fact, you can sign up on their website to donate certain waste items to TerraCycle and they’ll pay the shipping to get it from you and donate money to a charity of your choice. Find out more about How TerraCycle Works.

These products are very fun. Take a look at some examples below and check out TerraCycle on Facebook and Twitter.

Packaging Waste Declining in Europe

Despite a growing population, packaging waste is declining rapidly in Europe. An analysis of data from 1998 to 2008 shows that the decline in packaging waste is driven by high recycling levels and other forms of packaging recovery. In 2008, 17 million metric tons of packaging were sent for final disposal. This represents a reduction of 57% from 1998.

The objective for reducing packaging waste in Europe was set out by the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment. Their goal over the studied time period was a packaging waste reduction of 55% so you can imagine they were happy to find that the strategy worked and the goal was reached.

The report contradicts a strong perception that packaging has led to a mass of waste throughout Europe and confirms that packaging waste accounts for 3% of Europe’s total waste.

Recycling Made Easier


The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is an industry working group that is committed to creating and implementing an environmental vision for packaging. Their mission is to advocate and communicate a robust vision for making packaging more environmentally friendly. They also support innovative and functional packaging materials that promote economic and environmental health. SPC has been working on a new project and they are preparing to launch a voluntary labeling pilot program for packaging this fall that intends to increase recycling and make it easier to understand. The hope is to eliminate confusion that is caused by some labels. SPC will allow members to use this new labeling program on their products, and plan on opening the program to others. The overall goal of this program is for it to become a universal label.

Eco labeling has taken some heat recently because it can be confusing and misleading. Some companies that participate in greenwashing use eco labels to make their products appear to be eco-friendly. This has led to consumer confusion and frustration. Consumers want instruction and direction on what is actually recyclable. This pilot labeling program will help give consumers the right information on what to recycle, with the goal of keeping everyone on the same page.

The labels have three classifications: widely recycled, not recyclable, and limited recycling. A black diagonal line will classify the not recyclable label. Limited recycling will have the phrase check locally above the icon and it will identify the material. Plastic bags and films will be classified by store drop off or recycle if clean and dry.