Sustainability as a whole continues to trend into the new year. According to the National Restaurant Association “What’s Hot” culinary forecast for 2023, which saw a reflection of pandemic trends and current economic pressures in its forecast, zero waste/sustainability/upcycled foods is still trending. This leads us to refillable packaging within the realm of sustainability.
Refillable packaging is a type of packaging that can be used multiple times, reducing the need for single-use packaging. This type of packaging is becoming increasingly popular as consumers and businesses alike look for ways to reduce their environmental impact.
One of the main benefits of refillable packaging is that it reduces waste. Traditional single-use packaging, such as plastic bottles and bags, often end up in landfills or the ocean where it can harm wildlife and pollute the environment. Single-use packaging accounts for a significant portion of the plastic waste in the world. This is because single-use packaging is designed to be used only once, and then discarded, which leads to a high volume of waste. Below are a few of the facts surrounding traditional single-use plastic:
- Approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide since the 1950s, and most of it is still in existence today.
- Around 91% of plastic is not recycled.
- According to a report by the United Nations, around eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean. This is the equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute.
- Plastic bags and plastic bottles are the most common types of plastic waste found in the ocean.
- Plastic debris in the ocean can have severe impacts on marine wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems.
- Plastic pollution has the potential to impact human health through the contamination of seafood and other sources of food.
As mentioned above, traditional single-use packaging has a significant impact on the world. On the other hand, as it is made of recyclable material, refillable packaging can be used again and again, significantly reducing the amount of waste that is produced. For example, a refillable bottle can be used hundreds of times before it needs to be replaced, whereas a single-use plastic bottle is used once and then thrown away. Refillable packaging can not only be reused by the consumer, but also by the business or manufacturer. The refillable packaging can be returned and reused or repurposed by the business or manufacturer. This reduction in waste not only benefits the environment but also helps to conserve resources, such as oil and water, which are used in the production of packaging materials.
Additionally, refillable packaging can also reduce the amount of litter in the streets and public places, as people are more likely to bring back and refill their refillable bottles, bags, or containers rather than disposing of them after use.
Another benefit of refillable packaging is that it can save money in the long run. While the initial cost of refillable packaging may be higher than single-use packaging, over time it becomes more cost-effective as the user does not have to keep purchasing new packaging. This is particularly true for businesses that use large amounts of packaging, such as food and beverage manufacturers.
Refillable packaging is also more sustainable than single-use packaging. It requires less energy and resources to produce and transport. This is because refillable packaging is often made from more durable and high-quality materials, which means it can last longer and be used more times than single-use packaging. This reduces the need for constant production and transportation of new packaging materials, which in turn reduces the environmental impact.
Another sustainability benefit of refillable packaging is that it generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The production and transportation of traditional single-use packaging requires large amounts of energy and resources, which leads to the release of greenhouse gasses. Refillable packaging, on the other hand, requires less energy and resources to produce and transport, as mentioned above, which also means fewer greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere.
Additionally, refillable packaging is often made from more sustainable materials than single-use packaging. There are a variety of different types of refillable packaging available, including refillable bottles, bags, and containers. Refillable bottles can be made from glass or stainless steel, which are both recyclable and can be used for a long time, making them a perfect option for water, juice, and cleaning products. On the other hand, single-use bottles are often made from plastic, which is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose.
Another common type of refillable packaging is refillable bags, which are often used for groceries and other products. These bags can be made from various materials, such as cloth, nylon, or paper, and can be used multiple times before needing to be replaced.
More companies are also incentivizing consumers with refill programs. For example, Just Salad allows customers to purchase a reusable bowl for $1 or participate in the BringBack Program. Both programs are aimed at reusing the salad bowls while offering in-store benefits and reducing single-use plastic waste to increase participation. Tiffin Indian Cuisine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has implemented the use of reusable and trackable containers within their restaurant. Not only can the customer return the reusable containers in person to the store, but they can also return them by the use of delivery drivers with their next order.
Companies are also experimenting with new types of refillable packaging and bringing innovation to refillable packaging design. Paper-based packaging is a new trend, which can be reused multiple times, and it is compostable and biodegradable making it a great alternative to traditional plastic packaging.
In conclusion, refillable packaging is a great way to reduce waste, save money, and promote sustainability. As consumers and businesses become more conscious of the environmental impact of their actions, refillable packaging is likely to become even more popular. Reducing waste and promoting sustainability are a great way for your business to show not only do you support environmentally friendly endeavors, but that the business itself is also environmentally friendly.