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5 Plastic Packaging Alternatives For Your Small Online Business

Plastic Packing Alternative

Your online business couldn’t function without plastic packaging. But as you send out another order packed with Styrofoam peanuts or wrapped in a plastic bag, stop. What if you could reduce your footprint and your costs in one go? Here are the affordable plastic alternatives you should be using.

The problem with plastic packaging

You're a savvy small business owner. You’re aware of the reasons we need to find and use plastic alternatives. According to statistics from PlasticsEurope, less than a third of all plastic in the UK is recycled. The rest ends up in the environment. Polluting our rivers and oceans. Harming wildlife. Taking hundreds of years to decompose on landfills and leach toxins into the earth. It’s a grim picture and we need to act. Businesses can lead the way.

A question of cost

So when it comes to pollution, plastic is the public enemy number one right now. However, it does have some things going for it. One thing being that it’s cheap. Cost is a huge factor for businesses. You want to make money. As far as your research has told you, plastic is still the cheapest packaging material available. It might be cheap, but it comes with a huge environmental cost. What if we told you that there are affordable plastic alternatives available? Solutions that could totally work for your small online business?

The investment in plastic alternatives

The focus on the impact of plastic pollution is not going away. Investment in the research and production of plastic alternatives is increasing all the time.

Much of the research and development has focused on plant-based plastics. Plant-based plastics production uses naturally occurring chemicals in plants. Plants like corn and sugarcane contain natural substances like collagen and starch. Add these to ethanol, lactic acid, and natural resins, and you have an alternative to plastic. The amazing thing about plant-based plastics is that they are completely sustainable. As is the production process.

As with many eco-friendly options, as investment increases, they’re more widely used and available. At this point, they become cheaper.

I want to stop using plastic packaging

Companies are discovering more plastic alternatives all the time. There are more options than you’d think.

Recycled cardboard and paper

Maybe you were expecting us to start off the list with something a little more exotic. But if you want affordability and sustainability, you can’t overlook paper and cardboard. They are two of the most recyclable materials available. But be sure to opt for post-consumer or post-industrial recycled materials. If you use recycled cardboard or paper you can really reduce your footprint.

Mushroom-based packaging

No, we aren’t having a laugh. Agricultural waste is cleaned and ground, then fused together by mushroom roots. The material is then moulded into shape, dried, and used as packaging for smaller items. Your customers can then compost it at home.

Cellulose, fibre, and resin

What do banana stem fibres and coconut have in common? They have the potential to become plastic alternatives. Researchers are looking at these because they can be heated, melted, and injected into moulds. Could these become bioplastics that give standard plastic a run for its money?

Plant-based polymers

Some companies have been able to produce bioplastics from corn starch, potato starch, and sugarcane. They are completely renewable, sustainable, and compostable. Could plant-based plastics end our fading love affair with oil-based plastics for good?


Well, we had to end with something a little weird. Product designers and researchers have come up with a prototype for seaweed-based plastic. They used a substance called agar, a gelatinous material that occurs naturally in seaweed, to create a sustainable plastic alternative. Might you be wrapping your customer orders in seaweed in the future?

If you are trying to steer your business away from plastic but you’re afraid of the cost, don’t panic. Investment in research into plastic alternatives and the technology needed to make them is increasing all the time. Before long, we could all be using them and maybe plastic packaging will become a distant memory. Maybe they’ll become the best investment you’ve ever made. For your business and for the planet.

For more interesting articles on sustainability, check out the rest of our blog.

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