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All About Plastic Packaging and How to Be More Sustainable

  • 5 min read

Plastic bottles are piling up and sticking around. You may have heard or read about plastic’s harmful effects on the planet.  Even so, many companies choose plastic packaging because it's cheaper and easier. Today, we produce about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.

At Bonny, we are focused on sustainability and our fiber is housed in infinitely recyclable metal packaging. Read on to learn why we eliminated all the plastic we could from our packaging.

How Is Plastic Made?

Via media.giphy.com

Do you know that plastic is actually made from natural resources? Yes, we’re talking about natural materials like cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil. They undergo a process called polymerization, where polymers are made to create various kinds of plastic products. (Welcome back to high school science class!) These plastics last so long that they outlive us. 

There are seven types of plastics: 

Type 1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE, or Polyester)

This type of plastic is used for packaged food and drinks because it prevent food from spoiling and help keep the carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks inside the package.

Type 2: High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is stronger and more stable than PET and it is considered a safer option for food and drink containers. This type of plastic is commonly used as juice containers, shampoo bottles, medicine bottles, or grocery bags. 

Type 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is known to be the second most widely used plastic resin in the world and is used in toys, blister wraps, cling wraps, detergent bottles, and medical tubing. 

Type 4: Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE has the simplest chemical structure and is generally thinner relative to other plastic types. Think grocery bags, frozen food bags, plastic wraps, paper milk cartons, beverage cups, squeezable condiment bottles, and food containers. LDPE is also used in cable and wire covering.  

Type 5:  Polypropylene (PP)

This type is plastic is used for hot food containers as it is strong enough to be used in thermal vests and car parts, including disposable diapers and sanitary napkins. That's strong!

Type 6: Polystyrene (PS)

Styrofoam is polystyrene used for food containers, egg cartons, disposable cups and bowls, and even in biking helmets. 

Type 7: Other

The rule of thumb is, that if it’s not applicable in the first 6, then it is most likely a Type 7. This best-known plastic type is a polycarbonate (PC) used in products like eye protection to create lenses for sunglasses, sports, and safety goggles.

Unfortunately, not all seven are recyclable. 

How Long do Plastics Last?

The Tonight Show Staring Jimmy Fallon / Via media.giphy.com

Notall plastics have the same life span

Plastic Bags

The plastic bag we use for groceries is one of the most frequent plastic products that we use every day, and that will be around for 20 years!

Alternative: Buy a reusable bag that is canvas or paper.

Takeaway coffee cups and plastic cups

Most to-go coffee cup materials are not recyclable due to this thin plastic membrane that lines the cup to keep your coffee from spilling. That plastic membrane reportedly takes 30 years to degrade. 

How about those party-staple, red plastic cups? It takes 450 years to breakdown!

Alternative: Bring your own recyclable stainless steel tumbler that can be for hot or cold drinks every time you go out for a coffee run. Opt for stainless steel cups instead of plastic ones. 

Plastic Straws 

They may be slim in size but it they stay around 200 years.

Alternative: Straws made up of bamboo, steel, paper, and edible plant-based material.

Plastic toothbrush 

That thing that makes our teeth clean? Well, they will be around for 500 years! Whoa.

Alternative:  Use wooden or bamboo toothbrushes. 

Plastic Bottles 

We’re grateful that we can carry our drinks everywhere we go, but our usual plastic water bottles last for 450 years.

Alternative: If you can, go for drinks that use glass bottles or boxed water/paper bottles. Or better yet, bring your own bottled water using an insulated stainless steel water bottle.

Six-Pack Plastic Rings (also known as yokes or hi-cones)

Six-pack plastic rings last up to 400 years! 

Alternative: Drink makers now make a paper-board alternatives.

What Does Plastic Do to The Environment?

One tiny particle of plastic can do a lot. They end up in landfills, where it may take up to years and years to decompose, leading to potentially toxic substances in water and soil, which in the long run reaches us, humans.

Why Does Plastic Take so Long to Decompose? 

Even though plastic was derived from natural resources, plastics are an end product. Plastic’s composition is chemical unlike organic materials, like fruits, making it harder to break down. 

What About Plastic-Eating Bacteria? 

Known as Ideonella sakaiensis, this bacteria discovered in 2016 in Japan was found to decompose a plastic bottle. However, this bacteria takes weeks to break down plastic, compared to the fast production of plastics, so it wasn’t actually seen as a fast option to resolve the world plastic problem. There were also some concerns about what the bacteria left behind. Researchers are exploring ways to break down plastic faster. 

Can All Plastic Be Recycled?

PBS Digital Studios / Via media.giphy.com

“About 36 percent of all plastics produced are used in packaging, including single-use plastic products for food and beverage containers, approximately 85 percent of which ends up in landfills or as unregulated waste.” according to the UNEP. 

It short, no. Recycling is complicated and is determined by market demand, price determinations, and local regulations. But out of the seven plastics, types 1 and 2 are the easiest to recycle while others either have certain recycling conditions or are not recyclable at all.

What Happens If Plastic Is Not Recycled?

Plastic Can Be Bad For Our Health

Plastic has a carcinogen called bisphenol A (BPA), and hardening agents like bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF), as well as other chemicals, like flame-retardants or coloring agents, known as endocrine disruptors which can affect the body’s hormone activity. When they are absorbed by the body, they can increase or decrease normal hormone levels, mimic the body's natural hormones, or change the natural production of hormones.

Plastic Can Harm Marine and Land Animal Life

You may have seen sea turtles entangled in floating six-pack rings. This is an example of the marine pollution caused by plastics. Marine ecosystems receive the largest impact from plastics that end up in the ocean.

Not only marine life is affected but land animals are in danger too as they tend to scavenge in areas like landfills, where they can eat a certain amount of plastic.

Unrecycled Plastics End Up in Landfills

Landfills are a spot or location to dispose of waste material by burying it with soil, usually as a method of filling in or extending usable land. Since not all plastics are recycled, they sometimes end up in landfills together with other trash, and over time the toxic chemical content of plastics leaches into the groundwater, affecting our other bodies of water and contaminating our drinking water supplies. 

Bonny Is Committed to Sustainability

Bonny’s elegant packaging is infinitely recyclable. Plastic scoops were also eliminated from our packaging and we sell a stainless steel tablespoon for measuring out our prebiotic fiber powder.

Once you have finished your can of Bonny, feel free to upcycle the tin for other purposes like a flower pot, coin collector, and more. Send us pics!

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