Mono-material packaging: A wish come true!
mono-material packaging is key to a circular economy and it gives a better chance for plastic to be recycled.
Over the centuries, the human-environment relationship has grown from a circular one to a linear one. In the past, what our ancestors used to take from nature was returned to nature at the end of its life.
Civilization developed along with newly synthesized materials that allowed technology to flourish—materials that nature is unable to assimilate in a short period of time. Nevertheless, learning to be better stewards of materials can drive our economy back to a circular one.
There are numerous players involved in the lifecycle of one product it may not be sufficient when only one of the players upstream creates a ‘circular product’ without involving the other players downstream to ensure that the loop can truly be closed.
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Recycling cannot deal with mixed materials, these plastics cannot be mechanically recycled together and have to be separated, if not the quality of the recycled PET (which has a higher recycled value) will be downgraded or even contaminated beyond reusability.
The reverse engineering of products (such as recycling) into individual materials follows the same process. Recycling could be an energy-intensive activity, but it helps to close the loop for a circular economy in packaging products.
However, the more complicated a packaging design, the more effort is needed to recycle it.
Unfortunately, the only way to know if this mixture of inseparable materials is durable or even toxic is through testing it, but the composite particleboard is thereafter rendered non-recyclable.
Is it possible to standardize the transparent plastic-type to use for takeaways?
While certain industries like automobiles or electronics would benefit from advanced plastics, comparatively, packaging for everyday items does not require the same level of complexity.
With a thorough understanding of the recycling process and infrastructure, much can be done by the packaging design engineers to mindfully create packaging for ease of recycling.
And mono-material can be a great place to start.