Packages and closures for packaging

Eco-design – by definition, your product is waste! Part II

In the first part of our eco-design series we covered its main principles and explained why it is important to stick to it through all stages of the product development. We already know how to choose a bottle. Now we will discuss the remaining packaging elements along with their eco-versions.

…once we have made an informed choice about the bottle, we need the closure.

Closures are the key elements of packaging as they assist the consumers in dispensing of the cosmetic or detergent products.
We wish to incorporate the best solutions, so we juggle between temporary and virtually eco-friendly ideas vs. long-run sustainable options. We are forced to consider many different factors. For instance: a cosmetic dispenser with twelve tiny elements made from 100% PCR turned out to be very flawed. A substantial portion of the ordered test batch failed the quality tests. It could have been saved by adding curing agents to the compound, but then it would negatively influence another recycling process.

How does it work?
PCR dispenser with additives should be sorted as post-consumer waste and processed into regranulate dedicated for everyday products for contact with cosmetics and/or food. However, our regranulate has already been weakened by one recycling process and contains contaminants, which would lower the quality of the new recycled plastic, and finally the PCR product.
Assuming dispensers are used, for example, in the bottles for liquid soaps which are then refilled from plastic pouches or at in-store refill stations, we should pay extra attention to their long-term quality and reliability.
Reused bottles without durable and functional closures would simply contradict the basic idea of the refilling.
We offer special orderpush-pull closures with a cap that can be made from 80% PCR! Since this element is big and fixed, a mix of granulate and regranulate will not decrease the product quality.

Eco-design solutions that we recommend are closures without extra finishes in white or other light shades – disc top or flip top caps made from single material. In some detergents one can use all-plastic sprayers made from 100% plastic.
Our wide offer includes packaging which is undoubtedly eco-friendly. Their main advantage is the homogeneous material composition which means they can be easily recovered. The earlier mentioned aluminium jars with their infinite recycling cycles are also a great eco-option for packaging and you can also find them in our offer

As we have already pointed it out, producers must focus on high quality closures that will properly assist their consumers in the application, making foam or spraying mist. Frequently used and then discarded into a proper waste bin will bring more benefits than, for example, disposing uncontrolled amount of medium from a container with a plain cap or risking malfunction of a 100% PCR dispenser, which would block the medium inside the bottle. Properly chosen closures precisely dispense the desired amount of the product, which is very economical. In consequence, it limits the number of produced waste which corresponds with the eco-design agenda.


Another important element is a label. For a long time it was neglected in the process of making eco-friendly packaging and treated as a minor part of no importance in the recycling of the labelled waste. The increasing awareness concerning the label production, glue and ink, drew the attention to this significant aspect. Companies which introduce labels to the market stepped up to the challenge and offer multiple eco-friendly solutions.

There are many different types to choose from, including: paper labels with warm water-soluble glue; labels made from the same material as the rest of the packaging, which does not disrupt the recycling process; or labels made in whole or in a great part from recovered materials. The thickness of a label is also significant: the thinner it is, the less waste we produce, regardless of its material.
There are many interesting innovations dedicated to manufacturers of products closed in glass packaging. They can use paper labels with water-soluble glue, which will neither disrupt the recycling nor smear the recycling equipment.
In case of returnable bottles which make their way back to the manufacturer, are washed and refilled, the best option would be to choose permanent labels. Such labels can be washed at least 30 times, transported and stored in different temperatures and weather conditions. It lowers the cost, shortens the time of the bottle’s re-circulation and saves the material for label.
Eco-labels should not include special finishes. Gilding, extra coating or metallisation hamper the material recovery. While such refinements bring small, purely visual benefits, they effectively disrupt on of the eco-design stages, therefore it would be worthwhile to re-think the project and give up on unnecessary finishing options.

External packaging
All packaging layers are important, although some of them are completely unnecessary. For years now, Greenpeace UK has been encouraging the toothpaste manufacturers to stop putting their products into cardboard boxes, which do not fulfil any significant protective functions and in practice are just waste.
In this case one has to answer a series of questions concerning a particular product. Is the outer packaging necessary? If so, in what form? It might turn out that all we need is a polyolefin heat shrink film that would protect the product against unwanted breach of the packaging while on the store shelf. Such films not only give the product a touch of elegance, but also perfectly complete our eco-packaging.
Polyolefin is a polymer built only from carbon and hydrogen. Such chemical composition makes it fully recyclable. Its burning does not produce any toxic substances, whereas its energy efficiency is comparable with that of carbon. During the thermal processing of the polyolefin film the machine operator is not exposed to harmful fumes. It is yet another, health-promoting chain link in the complex process of eco-designing. More on the polyolefin heat shrink films.For individual offers please contact our office.

The project should also include the transport preparation.
Collective cardboard packaging should be fully filled with product. If we do without additional box fillers – whether plastic or natural, we increase the transport efficiency. Packing and loading a container should be carefully planned in order to avoid ineffective transport. Carbon footprint left in transport is still very high, even when we choose trains or ships. Hence, when we plan shipments, we should try to utilise 100% of the available loading capacity.

Trusted supplier
In order to fully commit to the idea of the eco-designing, all of the above mentioned conditions must be based on a cooperation with a trusted supplier. Bottle, label or closure manufacturers should conform to specific rules. On-site recycling, sewage treatment plant or a clear agreement with a rendering plant, as well as ethical employment policies, are the most important guidelines. If we are satisfied with the deliveries and know the goods are produced according to the eco-rules and sustainable development, we can rest assured our final product is truly eco-friendly as all its elements, including the last stages of delivery, comply with the eco-requirements.

Eco-design is a multi-stage process. At each step we should carefully analyse the available solutions and consider all pros and cons. Superficial and short-term benefits may ultimately fall short of the mark. On the other hand, seemingly insignificant choices may positively influence the final outcome of the project.
It is also natural to backtrack or improve once implemented solutions. When we are confronted with something new, which in theory seems perfect, it can be only cross-checked when put in practice and verified by consumer behaviours. If the goal is to protect the planet, one should not be discouraged by a temporary failure. Sometimes it is more profitable to take a step back and start over than to persistently stand by wrong solutions.
Innovation is a risk worth taking in the name of supporting the eco-efforts and corporate social responsibility.

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