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Is Plastic Sustainable?

Sustainable plastic is a complicated subject for the packaging industry. Plastic materials are often chosen for packaging because they are strong enough to protect products while also being lightweight and flexible. This reduces the costs and carbon emissions of shipping and transportation—good for the wallet and the environment.

Pile of plastic trash with backlight

At the same time, just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally is currently recycled. Another 40% ends up in landfills and 32% in ecosystems. The other 14% is used for incineration or energy recovery. Recycling centers often don’t accept single-use plastic such as bottles, grocery bags or cutlery because they can fall into the crevices of recycling machinery and/or lock it up. Instead, they end up in landfills and marine life. Two reasons why some states and countries have moved to ban single-use plastics.

See what we mean about complicated? The truth is, plastic packaging is sustainable if reused and recycled correctly. Most plastic packaging can be recycled up to six times, according to the British Plastic Federation. By contrast, most experts say a corrugated box can be recycled up to seven times.

Completed mailers in box

How Can You Recycle Plastic Packaging?

Let’s look at Premier’s poly mailers. They’re among one of our most popular packaging options. This is because they’re easily customizable, strong enough to offer product protection, flexible enough to handle unique SKU shapes, and lightweight enough to reduce shipping costs.

Our poly mailers are recyclable too, at plastic recycling drop-off locations! First, cut all labels out of the poly mailer and throw them in the trash. Then, place the remainder of the poly mailer in the specialty recycling bin at your drop-off location. The plastic from flexible packaging will be recycled into containers, crates, pipe, or new bags and film.

How Can You Reuse Plastic Packaging?

Then again, you may be like us and re-use the poly mailers you receive to ship your own personal packages. Just put your item inside, tape the poly mailer shut, and make sure your new shipping label covers the old one. Done!

If this seems unnecessarily thrifty, like something only your relatives in the Great Depression would do, consider: At least 20% of plastic packaging can be re-used multiple times until its quality deteriorates, according to ScienceDirect. Why throw something away, creating environmental headaches, when it’s still usable and doesn’t cost you anything?

Greater reuse and recycling of plastic would keep it in a circular, closed-loop ecosystem and away from landfills and the oceans. Is plastic packaging sustainable? It can be, if we simply make the effort.

Contact us today to find out more about our poly mailers and other sustainable packaging Premier offers.