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Settling the Debate: Paper Vs. Plastic Packaging

paper vs. plastic, sustainable packaging

For years, the paper vs. plastic debate has caused consumers and manufacturers to question the impact their choices have on the environment. The packaging industry has seen an influx of paper packaging alternatives in recent years, but is it true that one material is better than the other. In short, the answer is no-neither paper or plastic is great for the environment. Both materials have their own pros and cons that make them about equally harmful to the environment. Here’s why:

The Pros and Cons of Paper

Paper is often thought of as being better for the environment than plastic. But, did you know that 26% of landfill waste is reported to be paper? When recycled properly, paper won’t end up in landfills, but not all consumers end up recycling their packaging waste. Some paper packaging also has a plastic coating on the inside. While this makes the package more durable, it also deems the paper non-recyclable. Paper packaging production is also known to contribute to pollution because of the high amounts of energy needed to create it.

Packages made of paper are often not viewed as very durable unless they have some kind of plastic coating that prevents moisture and mold from harming what’s inside the package. On the bright side, paper is a great choice for printing and branding. It's also easy to store and is an affordable option when purchased in bulk.

The Pros and Cons of Plastic

paper vs. plastic, sustainable packaging

Plastic packaging is sometimes viewed as more reusable and recyclable than paper packaging, but that is if the consumer chooses to reuse it. If not, it can take thousands of years to degrade plastic. When the plastic does finally degrade, it releases toxins into the environment.

On a positive note, plastic is a useful tool when shipping products because it is lightweight, durable, and versatile. It isn’t always the first choice when it comes to printing and branding, so if visual appeal is important to you it might be necessary to print a separate label.

The Solution

When it comes to deciding between paper and plastic, the choice ultimately depends on the goals of your brand. Neither option is great for the environment, but luckily bioplastics might be the fix. Bioplastics are made from renewable sources and combine the benefits of both paper and plastic.

paper vs. plastic, sustainable packaging

There are other ways your brand can commit to sustainability, such as by reducing single use packaging and encouraging consumers to recycle materials that can’t be reused. It's hard to avoid paper and plastic altogether, but committing to sustainability is the first step in the right direction.


GCB Solutions has the packaging industry experience to help you through shifting trends. We offer custom packaging services, including carton erecting and filling, taping, gluing, coding, and labeling using state-of-the-art equipment. Whether you are beginning the design process or looking to make that final push to launch, we can help.

Call us at (904) 263-2804 or schedule a free consultation, today


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