No Waste Packaging: The 101 GuideOctober 09 2023
When shopping, it’s important to consider the product you’re buying, how it’s made, and the resulting impact on the environment. Almost as important as the product itself, though, is how it’s packaged. Too many products these days are still being packaged using environmentally damaging materials like virgin plastic (plastic not made from recycled materials), styrofoam, and bubble wrap.
Enter zero waste packaging. Zero waste packaging is a system where every component of the packaging can either be re-used, completely recycled or simply composted back into the earth, leaving nothing to be thrown away. There’s no doubt about it, making the choice to buy products wrapped in no-waste packaging is one of the best things you can do for the environment. In this guide, we’ll help you understand the different options when it comes to no waste packaging and how to make the switch to supporting companies that are following its principles.
Option #1: Glass
Credit: Artisana Organics
Glass has many pros as a zero waste packaging material. It’s durable, can be reused almost endlessly, and many companies trying to close the loop on waste accept the packaging back to re-use for the next round of products. You can use glass receptacles as flower vases, drinking cups, and even insulation in natural building! When it comes to recycling, glass is 100% recyclable and is widely accepted at most recycling centers.
There are very few cons to using glass as packaging, but one of them is that you typically can’t recycle broken glass - you’ll need to put the broken shards in the trash for the landfill to get rid of them. Of course, you can also use the broken pieces to create a beautiful mosaic on a picture frame or wall mirror instead.
Option #2: Paper & Cardboard
Many companies are now using kraft paper and recycled cardboard in their efforts to go zero-waste. These products are easily recycled or re-used and will naturally degrade over time. You can bury them in your compost pile or use them as a weed suppression tool in the garden.
Of course, not all paper and cardboard products are made alike. Look for packaging that is made from recycled materials and take a close look to make sure that the inks and binding chemicals used on the packaging are also non-toxic before you bury it in the ground. Hopefully, your cardboard packaging also came with kraft paper tape to hold it together, but if it wasn't, be sure to remove the plastic tape before using it in the compost pile or garden.
Option #3: Other Plant-Based Materials
Zero-waste technology has come a long way in recent years and paper and cardboard aren’t the only options for plant-based packing materials anymore. New zero-waste packaging is being built from corn starch, mushrooms, wheat, barley, potatoes, and many other sustainably harvested items.
Many of these plant-based products are labeled as compostable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can take it straight to your compost pile. When you see something labeled as compostable, look for the fine print. Many of these compostable items can only be composted in industrial facilities and must be taken to one of these centers. You will need to check to see if your local recycling center will accept these items.
If the packaging is labeled as “backyard compostable” it means you can literally bury it in your compost pile, walk away and that’s it! We’re proud that both our truffle and nut butter bomb wrappers are certified backyard compostable and easy to enjoy and dispose of at home.
Yes, completely zero-waste packaging IS possible. When buying, look for and support companies that are making a difference by providing sustainably harvested and easily recycled or compostable materials. Together, we can keep single-use packaging out of the landfill, out of our oceans, and make zero-waste packaging the norm.