Environmentally Friendly plastic-Free Packaging: Why It is Important

Chagrin Valley is not just another skincare company.

We are on a mission to make our customers healthier and our Earth a little greener.
We are committed to healthy skin, healthy people, and a healthy planet.

 

Organic Baby Skin Care Zero Waste

From a marketing perspective, attractive packaging is often extremely important.

While perusing store shelves, whether consciously or unconsciously, many consumers pay more attention to how a product is packaged than anything else. 

Since that first impression often leads to a purchase, most skincare companies spend a lot of money and time on creating pretty packaging. 

We believe that a company can create packaging that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly.

Our customers are not simply looking for "pretty" packaging they are looking for eco-friendly packaging from a company with an environmental conscience. 

Our Packaging is Over 99% Plastic-Free! However, while that may help decrease the amount of plastic waste we know that what we really need is a complete change in the way we use product packaging.

Eco-friendly packaging means more than simply eliminating plastic. In order to produce less waste, we must look at the entire lifecycle of all of our packaging materials, from their initial design to the end of their life. 

As a company dedicated to all things natural, we strongly believe that our environmental commitments apply not only to our products, but to how they are packaged, how we manage our business, and how we live our daily lives.

Sustainable packaging, also called Green Packaging, uses materials that will reduce the harmful impacts of packaging on the environment.  So …

  • we use minimal packaging
  • we use materials that have little environmental impact
  • we use materials that are sustainably sourced
  • we use materials that can really be recycled

 

That last bullet point is an important one that is often neglected and plastic is a great example. Although many plastics can be recycled, most are not, even those thrown into our recycling bins. In some municipalities, the cost of recycling makes it unfeasible. According to the EPA in 2018 the United States generated about was 35.7 million tons of plastic. Of that about 2 million tons (8.7%) were recycled, 5.6 million tons (15.6%) were incinerated and 27 million tons (75.6%) ended up in landfills where they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Although the recycling rate of some types of plastic like PET bottles and HDPE natural bottles was higher, it never rose above 29.3 percent.  Source

That is why we strive to be as plastic-free as possible not only in our product packaging but in our plastic waste.

 

Shipping Packaging Material

The number one function of shipment packaging is to protect your product order in transit. We try to use the least amount of packaging material possible.

We believe firmly in the three "R's," reduce, reuse, and recycle.

For protective cushioning, your package is stuffed with our shredded recycled office paper or environmentally friendly kraft papers.

If needed, fragile materials are wrapped in a honeycomb kraft paper that acts like bubble wrap without the plastic (I do miss popping the bubbles). These kraft papers are made from 30 to 50% recycled materials can be tossed in your paper recycling bin and are FSC® certified to ensure responsible natural resource management.

USPS packaging, as well as any other boxes that we use, meet Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards. Our boxes are now sealed with paper tape instead of plastic tape.

 

 

Product Packaging

Balancing the proper packaging for our personal care products and their environmental impact requires a lot of research and thought. One function of packaging is to preserve the freshness of our products--in this case, product ingredients dictate our packaging choice. Another function is to protect our product in transit to our customers.

The environmental impact is always a priority. As we look at the ability to reduce, reuse and recycle, we also assess the carbon footprint of the packaging across the entire supply chain.  

Below is a brief discussion of product packaging. For more detail about all of our packaging please read, "The Goal At Chagrin Valley Is Zero Waste, Eco-Friendly, Plastic Free Packaging" 

 

We have chosen three different materials for our product packaging. 

  • Kraft Paperboard and Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Glass

Kraft Paperboard and Cardboard

According to RecycleNation, "When you recycle your paper, cardboard, magazines, and newspapers, you’re giving paper mills the fibers they need to make new paper. Paper is soaked to separate the fibers, pressed into new paper, dried, and rolled to go to manufacturing lines where it is cut or formed into paper products. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, 80% of the paper mills in the U.S. use recycled materials in their products."

The difference between paperboard and cardboard lies in how they are constructed. Although paperboard is thicker than regular paper, it is still just one layer. Cardboard or corrugated boxes are thicker and sturdier and consist of multiple layers of heavy paper.

While both paperboard and cardboard cartons are easily recyclable, some municipalities consider paperboard as paper and others as cardboard. So if your city requires paper and cardboard to be separate check to see into which category the paperboard belongs. 

About 68% of paper and cardboard that was used in 2018 was recycled and used to produce new products. Since paper products are one of the most commonly recycled items, the need to cut down more trees for paper pulp is decreased.

We need to save trees! Trees act as giant air purifiers, provide oxygen, store carbon, stabilize soil, and provide food and homes for the wildlife of our planet. According to The Arbor Day Foundation, during one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.

 

Metal

Natural Organic Lotion Bars

We decided on recyclable tin-plated steel tins and aluminum for some of our products because they are lightweight materials that easy and inexpensive to recycle. The steel in our tins contains between 30 and 50% recycled content.

  • Aluminum requires only 5% of the energy to recycle into new cans, compared with mining new ones and creates little pollution.
  • Recycling steel uses 60% less energy than making new steel. Since aluminum and steel can be recycled over and over without breaking down, the quality of the recycled product is just as good as the virgin product.
  • A recycled can is generally turned into a new can and back on store shelves within 60 days after hitting the recycling bin.
  • At the consumer level, each can that is recycled substantially reduces the environmental footprint of the next can.
  • Americans could save more than $3 billion worth of energy each year by recycling cans.
  • There is so much aluminum in circulation right now, that if we recycled all of our aluminum, we would never have to make more from scratch.

 

 

Glass

Natural Face and Eye Cream

 

Although glass containers are heavier than metal, many of our more delicate products do not fare well in metal.

Metals are good conductors of heat and cold and the temperature changes dramatically affect the products. We decided on glass as an alternative to plastic. The caps are tin-plated steel.

How is glass recycled? Crushed recycled glass, called cullet, is combined with virgin raw materials (silica sand, soda ash, and limestone) in the glass manufacturing process. Since it takes less energy to make glass from cullet than from the raw materials, recycling glass is more energy-efficient than making it from new raw materials.

We know that glass is heavier than metal and requires a larger carbon footprint to ship. The process of making virgin glass (without any cullet) also requires a lot of energy. So why is it a better choice than plastic? Glass makes up for its shortcomings by being endlessly recyclable. Glass does not degrade or lose its purity when it is recycled, unlike plastic, which can only be recycled a few times (if it is recycled at all).

  • Glass jars are 100% recyclable and can be recycled without any loss in quality.
  • Over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled.
  • Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet (crushed recycled glass) used in manufacturing.
  • One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used.
  • Glass is made from all-natural sustainable raw materials--sand, soda ash, and limestone. Plastic is made from petroleum-based non-renewable fossil fuels.

 

How To Recycle Glass: Glass is easy to recycle. According to RecycleNation, "In areas where residents have to sort recyclables into different bins themselves, glass recycling is about 90% effective compared to 40% in a single-stream recycling process." So to get the most out of glass recycling, be sure to thoroughly clean the container and instead of throwing it into one curbside bin, bring it to a recycling center. 

 

A Note About Biobased Plastics

We have done a lot of research on biodegradable and bio-based plastics. Bioplastics are "plastics" made from renewable resources such as sugar cane and corn. While this seems great, they have major drawbacksGrowing the crops needed to make bioplastics comes with the typical environmental impacts of agriculture, including greenhouse emissions from farm machinery and water pollution from the runoff of fertilizers used in large quantities. In some cases, these indirect impacts from “growing” bioplastics may be greater than if we made plastics from petroleum. 

Furthermore, at this time the new bio-based compostable plastic packaging is only compostable in commercial industrial composting sites that are not even available in most cities. This new packaging cannot be recycled and if accidentally placed in your recycling bin may actually damage the recycle stream of ordinary plastic. If it ends up in a landfill it will emit methane (a nasty greenhouse gas).

According to Oceana, an organization working to protect and restore our oceans, "Plant-based bioplastics are not as ‘green’ as some think. 'Bioplastic' is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several categories of plastic that differ in how they’re made and how much of their content comes from renewable sources. First, and importantly, not all bioplastics are biodegradable (able to naturally break down into smaller molecules) or compostable (able to biodegrade in controlled environments). Confusingly, the Plastic Industry Association’s very own definition states that a bioplastic is “partially or fully biobased and/or biodegradable.”

So, if you cannot recycle it, and there is no industrial compost facility in your area, it will end up in a landfill. Although the idea of using bio-based plastic may be a good one in the future, the infrastructure is not in place to make it a good choice at this time.

For more information please read about Chagrin Valley's Environmental Commitments

Updated July 2020

 

Please share your ideas for reusing or upcycling packaging materials!