Packaging waste is one of the most serious pollutants on the Earth, the negative impact of which can be felt on our natural resources. From damaging marine life and human health and littering of beaches and landscapes, to clogging of our waste streams and landfills, one integral packaging option that affects all of us is plastic. Though a lot is being done to achieve sustainability, the impact of the packaging pollution crisis is growing every day.
Although all of us would like to avoid using plastic, we end up buying packaged water or cold drinks in plastic packaging. However, since packaging is an important activity that is part of our everyday life, eliminating the concept is not the answer to our problems. Using sustainable alternatives is the only solution to rescue ourselves from the ongoing and impending repercussions of the climate crisis around the world. It is imperative for companies to gravitate towards sustainable packaging solutions that will help them reduce the use of plastics and move towards a circular and sustainable economy. Aluminium, for one, can serve as an excellent sustainable alternative to plastic.
How can aluminium packaging help in protecting our environment and restoring our ecosystem?
In the last few years, the world has seen a renewed concern with the undeniable fact that litter from packaging with limited recyclability is harming the planet. This has led to an urgent public debate about how to find sustainable packaging alternatives that move us toward a circular economy – one in which materials are not just used and thrown away but are reused or recycled endlessly.
Aluminium cans can be reused, repurposed and recycled endlessly
Aluminium beverage cans are the perfect example of a circular packaging solution as they can be recycled infinitely without any loss of quality. The reason they are the best alternative to curtail the use of plastic is that they have a much lower carbon footprint as compared to other packaging formats. A great proof of this is the fact that around 75 percent of all aluminium ever produced in the world is still in use today.
At its purest, ‘real circularity’ involves the continuous recovery and reuse of materials, with nothing lost during the process on economic terms that are not a tax to society. In terms of recycling, this means that all materials are properly collected and sorted, then each part of each product is separated out and fully recycled with minimum material loss, to become part of a product of similar value.
This is “real recycling,” where materials are kept in the loop at their highest economic value and function, rather than being subject to high losses and “downcycling” into products of lower value. Aluminium cans are well-suited for real circularity as they are made of an infinitely recycled, homogeneous material, which can be sorted easily and do not require complex processing to be recycled. Interestingly, a used beverage can, can be recycled and returned to the shelf within 60 days.
Aluminium is a permanent material with high economic value that can be used repeatedly while producing extraordinarily high recycling yields. It can stand the test of time and sustainability, which is what makes them better than plastic or glass bottles.
The advantages of aluminum cans keep growing, as they have 68 percent recycled content – the highest of any beverage package. This “design for circularity,” combined with high end-of-life economic value, makes recycling of cans viable, and should be the goal if we are to move from a – linear “take-make-waste” society toward a fully circular economy.
Safeguarding our Environment
We need to heed the lessons learnt from climate change. Besides taking care of our physical and mental well-being, caring for and improving the health of our ecosystem is also our responsibility.
Despite the scale of the packaging pollution crisis, it’s clear that change is coming. Driven by consumer demand, companies are increasingly making sustainability a core value and a conspicuous part of their business. Our environment and the future of our planet depends on how effectively businesses implement ‘real circularity’.
Sustainability, however, isn’t a one-person job; it needs the involvement of all stakeholders to take up the challenge and unleash a refreshing change to restore our ecosystem.
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