Our environment, and more importantly its welfare, is a topic that has been close to a lot of people’s hearts. With new scientific evidence coming to light all the time about the dangers of pollution and humanities’ role in causing it, it’s more important than ever for people all over the world to be conscious of the carbon footprint they leave behind. Where every one of us can do our bit to contribute to helping the environment, large companies, such as manufacturers of plastic and other industry leaders need to carry a larger share of this responsibility.
Common Myths About Polythene
It’s important to separate the facts from the myths when it comes to the environment and what really is damaging to it. When it comes to polythene, there is, in fact, more benefits to using it than many environmentally conscious people are aware of. Producing polythene and using the products that are made from it such as shopping bags is actually better for the environment than using paper bags.
Shopping bags made of polythene are the most commonly used form of polythene we see in our day to day lives and depending on how they are manufactured and disposed of, can have a negative impact on the environment. The fact is every form of the manufactured shopping bag, be it polythene or paper, can make an impact on the environment. The main advantage polythene has over paper is that polythene is a much more robust and versatile substance. Unlike paper bags, polythene bags can be re-used over and over again. Putting it simply this is the best way to make sure that we are using polythene responsibly and making sure we are limiting our impact on the environment. This is exactly why the UK government introduced the five pence charge applied to every shopping bag in supermarkets. This encourages shoppers to keep their bags and re-use them instead of throwing them away every time they go shopping. Polythene bags are also much easier to recycle then paper bags are.
The Advantages of using Polythene over Paper
The above also applies to every other use of polythene when replacing paper. Many companies use polythene and plastic sheeting as a form of packaging for shipping materials and products where they need to go. The advantages of using polythene over paper are many. As polythene has a built-in moisture barrier it keeps items dry and airtight when in storage or transit. As anyone who has shipped items wrapped in paper will tell you, it is far from ideal in damp conditions. Polythene is also far more durable and resilient than paper, and even a small amount is far more likely to provide protection to items that high amounts of paper packaging. Not only is this cheaper for companies looking to ship their items safely and reliably, but it also helps that company keep their carbon footprint as low as possible, meaning they are doing what they can to lessen their impact on the environment. Unlike paper, polythene comes in various densities and strengths with hundreds of performance or application enhancing additives, meaning it can be easily customized to individual requirements.
Better for Storage
Storage is also a concern for companies, space may come at a premium, and this can mean having vast amounts of paper packaging lying around can become very problematic. Polythene can be supplied wound on rolls making it easier to store and dispense. Fortunately and unlike paper, polythene is imperishable and resistant to many chemicals that may seep through paper damaging the contents beneath. Polythene is also lighter, so takes up less storage space and with many configuration formats available, it can reduce packing times, withstand impact (which reduces damages) and improve the appearance of products when packed. There are many other benefits of using polythene which can save you money on packaging in the long run.
Other things to consider when deciding to use polythene instead of paper are the origins of both substances and how to go about disposing of them. Using (and re-using) polythene products instead of paper products means fewer trees are used in the creation of paper or paper-based packaging products. This has obvious benefits to the environment, and that isn’t all. Contrary to popular belief polythene bags are completely recyclable, as are most polythene products. New developments in technology mean that additives can be added to standard polythene types making them truly bio-degradable. This is not a high-cost option either so if there is a risk that the polythene products that you use may not make their way back into the recycling stream, by adding the bio-degradable additives it will help the polythene to waste away much quicker.
Are Cotton Jute Bags Really that Eco-friendly?
Another widely circulated myth is that cotton jute bags, which are increasing in popularity, are a greener alternative to polythene but the effort that goes into making one, not to mention maintaining it by putting it through the washing machine every now and then, is simply false economy. Using electricity and clean water simply to maintain a bag is not carbon friendly. This form of cotton jute is becoming used for more than just shopping bags, and this is misleading at best and potentially dangerous at worst. Cotton jute has none of the moisture barring properties that polythene has and is not resistant to chemicals or rot. They are simply a poor substitute for polythene, none recyclable, perishable and detrimental to the environment rather than beneficial.
Recycling rather than Landfill
Critics of polythene point out that there is an abundance of it in a landfill and that it can also make it’s way into places like the ocean, disrupting the ecosystem and injuring wildlife either through accidents or by animal’s ingesting polythene, mistaking it for food. The fact is this is caused by human behaviour. There are no reasons that polythene cannot be recycled and this is something manufacturers of the substance are always working hard to make people aware of. When used correctly and responsibly polythene is by far the most environmentally friendly option to consider when compared to its alternatives.
Simply using less polythene is not the answer. The answer is to use and dispose of it in the way that its manufacturers intend. The alternatives on offer sadly are not as credible as imagined when you really start looking into it. Polythene is still the safest, cost effective and carbon friendly option available. By debunking the myths about polythene and its effects on the environment we may just be able to help it.
The main types of polythene are mentioned below