Why we use plastic packaging to ship goods to you

At Ultralight Outdoor Gear, we want to minimise our impact on the planet. With seemingly constant anti-plastic stories on the news, we wanted to find out which form of packaging is actually the best for the environment. We have seen other companies switch to paper because it is perceived as better but is this actually the form of packaging with least environmental impact?

After reading some available research which we've listed at the bottom of this page, we feel that recyclable plastic mailing bags and bubble wrap are the best available option. However, this does rely on our customers ensuring that the mailing bags and bubble wrap are recycled. They are the same material as carrier bags so can be recycled together.

The public is more aware than ever about the problems of poorly-disposed-of plastic and feel a greater responsibility towards the environment. We now label every plastic mailing bag that we send with a clear recycling message to make it known that our packaging can be put in with your recycling. Please help us by recycling the packaging that we use to ship your order.

In the UK you can check if your local council collect plastic bags for recycling at www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling or, if they don't, you can find out where to recycle your plastic mailbags at the same website www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling. Our plastic mailbags fall into the same category as 'Carrier Bags'.

Plastic isn't perfect but by using recyclable mailing bags and bubble wrap, and you, the consumer, ensuring that they are recycled, this should lead to reduced levels of pollution and production of greenhouse gases compared to paper packaging.

Here are some facts to support our decision:

  • 91% less energy to recycle 1kg of plastic than to recycle 1kg of paper
  • 4 times more energy to manufacture a paper bag than an equivalent plastic bag
  • Manufacturing of paper bags compared to plastic bags causes 70% more air pollution several times more greenhouse gases 50 times more water pollutants 4 times more water to make a paper bag than a plastic one
  • It takes 7 lorries to transport the same number of paper bags as a single lorry of plastic bags
  • The manufacture of paper involves heating woodchips in a chemical solution. These toxic chemicals cause air pollution such as acid rain and can pollute rivers etc. These chemicals cause long term pollution as they settle in river sediments and can enter the food chain.

Biodegradable plastics are to be avoided. They generate greenhouse gases when they break down. Additionally, if a small amount of biodegradable plastic finds its way into a batch of recyclable plastic it can have a catastrophic impact on the recycling process rendering the whole batch unstable and unusable.

Sources:

http://www.trendingpackaging.com/why-plastic-is-actually-better-than-paper/

Riverford Organic Farm – Exeter University packaging study

http://www.allaboutbags.ca/papervplastic.html

We will continue to monitor the packaging marketplace and will review the situation in an ongoing manner. We hope that paper packaging overcomes some of the barriers that we have identified so that we can perhaps use it in  future. If you would like to voice your opinion on this subject or if you have any further insight please contact us below with your thoughts, please title your message "Plastic Packaging".

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