Packaging Advice

From waste to wonder: How recycled materials are transformed into sustainable packaging solutions

4 mins

The global shift towards sustainability has led industries to explore innovative ways to minimise their environmental impact. One remarkable journey is the transformation of recycled materials into eco-friendly packaging solutions. This process not only reduces waste but also creates a closed-loop system that aligns with the principles of a circular economy.

In this article, we shed some light on the recycling process to give you a better understanding of how discarded materials undergo their transformation into sustainable packaging solutions.

Recycled plastics: A second life for PET bottles

Recycled plastics, particularly Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), offer an excellent example of how waste can be transformed into sustainable packaging solutions. The process begins with the collection of used PET bottles, which are then sorted according to colour and quality. These bottles are cleaned, stripped of labels and caps, and then shredded into small flakes. These flakes are then melted and formed into pellets that serve as the raw material for new packaging.

Additives, such as colorants and stabilisers, are often introduced to ensure the recycled plastic maintains its strength and integrity. These recycled plastics, often referred to as rPET, can be moulded into a variety of packaging forms, including clear containers, bottles, and even flexible films. This process significantly reduces the demand for virgin plastics to help conserve energy.

An example of a plastic packaging product that utilises recycled material is our very own MWrap. Made from 21% recycled materials, this machine stretch wrap can save up to 74% less waste than traditional films. It uses the latest technology in film production for a stronger yet thinner film, enabling businesses to produce less waste through optimising their application efficiency.  

Repurposing paper and cardboard into packaging

Recycled paper and cardboard are vital contributors to sustainable packaging solutions. The recycling process begins by collecting used paper and cardboard products, such as newspapers, magazines, and cardboard boxes. These materials are then cleaned to remove any ink, adhesives, and other impurities. The cleaned fibres are mixed with water to create a pulp, which is subsequently processed and refined to remove any remaining contaminants.

The refined pulp is then formed into sheets or rolls of recycled paper, which can be used to create a wide range of packaging products, including corrugated cardboard boxes, cartons, and packaging inserts. The strength and quality of the recycled paper are enhanced through various treatments, ensuring that it meets the requirements for packaging applications.

At Swiftpak, we stock a wide range of sustainable paper packaging products that enable businesses to protect their products as well as the environment. Our new Paper Bubble Wrap is made from 100% recycled paper and features a bubble or honeycomb style pattern over the surface. It protects and cushions fragile goods in transit just as well as traditional bubble wrap would and is a more environmentally friendly solution for those that are more eco-conscious.

Biodegradable materials: A sustainable alternative

In recent years, the rise of biodegradable materials has introduced an exciting avenue for sustainable packaging. Materials such as cornstarch, mushroom mycelium, and seaweed are increasingly being used to create packaging that naturally breaks down over time. These materials start as organic feedstock that undergoes various processing steps to extract and refine the necessary components.

For instance, cornstarch-based bioplastics are derived from corn kernels. The starch is extracted and processed to create bioplastic pellets, which can then be moulded into a variety of packaging forms. Mushroom mycelium packaging involves cultivating fungal networks in moulds to create customisable and biodegradable packaging shapes. Seaweed-based packaging utilises the natural binding properties of seaweed extracts to create flexible and environmentally friendly packaging materials.

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The infinite recyclability of metal and glass

Materials like aluminium and glass are prime examples of materials that can be infinitely recycled without losing quality. The recycling process for metals and glass begins with the collection of used items, such as aluminium cans or glass bottles. These items are then cleaned and sorted to remove any contaminants.

For aluminium, the collected cans are melted down, and the molten metal is then shaped into ingots or sheets that serve as the raw material for new packaging products. The recycling process for glass involves crushing and melting the collected glass to create a molten glass mixture that can be formed into new bottles or containers for primary packaging solutions. This cycle of recycling significantly reduces the energy and resources required for manufacturing packaging materials from scratch.

Sustainable packaging solutions from Swiftpak

At Swiftpak, we source responsibly and are committed to helping maintain the health of our environment. We offer an extensive range of sustainable packaging products that are ideal for businesses looking to achieve environmental goals. With over 45 years of experience, we have guided a huge variety of businesses in different industries on sustainable packaging. Feel free to contact our friendly team today who will be more than happy to help you.