Paper or plastic; which is worse for the environment?

There has been a lot of press lately on the environmental problems that plastic bags are causing.   A recent study showed that plastic buried in land has been slowly migrating out to the ocean and collecting in a central area.  The impact on marine life is significant.   The State of Hawaii became the first state to completely ban plastic bags at grocery store check outs.  Paper is biodegradable while plastic is not.

One would think that plastic is clearly worse for the environment, but the issue is far more complex if one considers the entire life cycle.  Paper requires more energy to produce, and paper mills create a lot more pollution than plastic manufacturing.  Paper is bulkier and more expensive to transport. 

We at Packnet feel the solution is not necessarily the choice between paper and plastic, because both cause environmental issues.  The real solution is recycling and reusing.   Reusable packaging materials don’t need to be disposed and they consume fewer resources since they are used over and over.  Further more if the materials are made from recycled product and if there is a sound recycling strategy for end of life, both paper and plastic are environmentally viable materials.

The best strategy to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials is to design a system that considers the entire manufacturing, delivery and disposal process.  This approach will maximize cost savings potential as well as minimize the environmental impact.  Packnet packaging engineers are experts at designing packaging and shipping products that are not only cost effective, but help save the environment.