Sustainable Printing and Recycling
With the rise in sustainable printing and recycling, we as consumers, we are paying more and more attention to sustainability and pondering how environmentally friendly our choices are. There’s a lot of unclarity about the environmental impact of disposable products such print. What does it actually mean for a product to be renewable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable?
Renewable means that the product is made from a natural resource that replenishes itself naturally over time. To give a very simple example, trees are renewable, oil is not. For example, Huhtamaki Future Smart paper cups are made of 100% renewable plant-based materials and contain no carbon content older than 100 years.
The sustainability of renewable tree fiber is granted with certificates like PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). They make sure that forestry is sustainable and that for each tree cut more trees are planted. You can find out more about our environmental credentials here, and our sustainable printing and recycling mantra here.
The term ‘renewable’ is linked to the origin of the raw material and and does not refer to how the product is used or what the end of life options are. Products made of renewable material can be either recyclable or compostable.
Recyclable, compostable and biodegradable paper – what’s the difference?
Recyclable means products, which, after sorting and collecting can be reprocessed. The resulting material can be manufactured into new products. Paper is made of fibres/pulps that comes from trees. This fibre can be recycled and reused up to seven times before it loses its integrity. Magazine paper or corrugated board are examples of products made from recycled fiber.
The recycling infrastructure varies between countries and regions, and thus there is no universal guidance on where to dispose of e.g. recyclable paper cups. For example, in the United Kingdom the recyclable paper cups should be put into a specific cup collection, and in Finland they belong to the paperboard waste stream.
How paper cup recycling works:
Compostable means products, which will decompose and become soil in a set time frame under certain pre-defined conditions. These conditions are different in industrial composting and home composting and thus a product that is suitable for industrial composting might not be good for home composting.
As said, composting requires specific conditions – certain time, temperature and pressure. Therefore, even the compostable cups or other products should not be thrown to nature – it takes a very long time for them to decompose if the conditions are not right.
Biodegradable is a more general definition and means products which decompose naturally into small pieces. However, it is possible that they don’t decompose fully or don’t become good quality soil. Different raw materials can be referred to as biodegradable and using the term loosely may encourage littering the environment.
We as consumers must understand that correct disposal is the key for materials to be reused for new products or to be composted.
Credit: https://www.huhtamaki.com who wrote this post originally, we have simply amended it to cover a wider range of materials.
Credit: https://www.twosides.info/UK for the Featured Image.