Published 10:28 am Monday, August 15, 2022
Denny Crowe reminds us that we all play an important part in managing the impact on our environment by limiting our consumption of single-use plastics. A problem perhaps less apparent, but no less serious, is the plastic used in product packaging. You buy an air freshener, or a pack of razor blades, and you will spend the first 5-minutes trying to frantically cut through the packaging.
Marketers and packaging engineers have worked together to present purchasing options that most consumers find attractive: it presents nicely on a store shelf; the product is protected from damage; products stack neatly and efficiently in boxes for shipment. All of this is good until we want to dispose of the packaging!
I have worked as an engineering consultant for two major building product companies that use more than 50% recycled material in their composite decking products. Most people don’t realize just how capital-intensive and costly it is to sort and process recycled material. The carbon footprint alone, associated with the manufacture, operation, and ongoing maintenance of certain pieces of recycling equipment can be considerable. That’s not to say we should stop our efforts—the better job we do of segregating and cleaning our recycled material the better.
Cross-contamination can drive up downstream processing costs to the point where it’s more economical to bury the problem rather than re-process it!