But why polystyrene and foams?
It is no secret that both polystyrene and Styrofoam have been very popular packaging materials for the best part of a century. Sure they are both lightweight, cheap and can be useful for products in transit, but these positives are far outweighed by the impact they are having on the environment.
Both polystyrene and Styrofoam are extremely difficult to break down and remain in our landfills and oceans for at least 500 years. To put this into perspective, it was roughly 500 years ago that Shakespeare was writing his plays and poems; but there is certainly nothing poetic about these packaging materials!
It is amazing to think about how much can change within 500 years, but that polystyrene and Styrofoam will continue to be polluting our environment and the surrounding wildlife.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom. With lots of research and evidence into the impact materials like these are having on our environment, there has been a dramatic attitude shift. And the better news? Along with research and technical advances, there are wonderful environmentally friendly alternatives to both polystyrene and Styrofoam. Ones that perform just as well (if not better) and make the use of these harmful materials redundant.
You may or may not have heard of moulded pulp as a packaging material, but its popularity has rocketed over the last few years with many brand leaders, such as Amazon now realising its potential. It directly replaces the need for both polystyrene and Styrofoam, and is ideal for shipping, storing and packaging a wide variety of products.
Pulp is a renewable, biodegradable and sustainable material made from raw materials, taking only up to 4-6 weeks to decompose. Alternatively, it can be recycled and used for the same or different purpose for 5-7 cycles. When compared to polystyrene and Styrofoam, need we go on?
You can read more about its properties and moulding process on our dedicated pulp page, but essentially the way it is manufactured means that it can be moulded around virtually anything to create bespoke and protective packaging designs.
Of course performance is a huge consideration and pulp doesn’t disappoint. When designed correctly, pulp actually provides better insulation and cushioning properties than polystyrene and Styrofoam. This makes pulp not only a clear win for the environment but also for companies who require protective packaging. With polystyrene and Styrofoam unpopular and outdated, packaging specialists have been concentrating their efforts to continually develop the designs of sustainable alternatives such as moulded pulp, meaning the performance of harmful materials are being left behind. Take a look at some of our case studies for some success stories!
Whichever products you use polystyrene or Styrofoam for can be replaced by moulded pulp. Whether this be end caps to protect doors and other large objects, or inserts for intricate, oddly shaped and fragile products. With our combined experience of over 70 years in the packaging industry, there isn’t anything we haven’t seen, or successfully packaged!
If the environmental and performance advantages aren’t appealing enough, do it for your customers. Earlier this year it was revealed that 74% of consumers would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging (Environmental Leader, 2020). So what is holding you back from starting your sustainable journey?
We would have to say that moulded pulp is best for large quantity orders, but with a little creativity, both corrugated and solid board can be great sustainable alternatives for smaller quantities. Please contact us using the form below, or drop us a call if you would like to know more about any of these packaging materials, even if you would just like some friendly advice!
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