To keep it short: Reuse rules. Single-use, mehh. Looking for more explanation? Keep on reading, you nerd.
We are convinced reusable packaging is the only way to go. When designing RePack, two criteria were important: a durable material, with the lowest environmental impact.
After tens and tens of tests and different materials, we picked this one: recycled post-consumer polypropylene. In human terms, this material is the most common plastic around. However, it’s not so easy to recycle and creates a lot of waste. Fortunately, we have a great partner that can turn objects like old refrigerators into RePacks, pretty cool right?
Anyway, back to the topic.
It can be difficult and confusing to navigate through the “sustainable” packaging options out there. A direct way to look at it is to remember that single-use is never the solution. No matter if they’re fossil-fuel-based or plant-based, recyclable, or compostable, the environmental impact is always too important. Any type of single-use represents status-quo and not a behavioral change.
Here’s our take on the most popular wanna-be sustainable-single-use options:
Compostable mailers: usually made from crops (corn starch for example), compostable packaging is tempting. However, not sorted correctly, they can be more polluting than classic plastic mailers by releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Secondly, plant-based packaging requires large amounts of land. Growing any crop, but especially GMO corn, for non-human consumption is a driver of so much environmental damage and many human rights issues worldwide. Boo!
Biodegradable mailers: their biodegradability comes from additives that accelerate the plastic’s ability to fragment into smaller pieces, meaning that these materials rapidly break down into microplastics - which are the most worrying component of plastic pollution. Biodegradable is often confused with compostable, but those are actually super harmful to composts. Double boo!
Bioplastics: The term bioplastics refers to any plant-based or partially plant-based manufacturing method. Their composition can vary a lot, but they are difficult to tell apart. Often they end up in landfills, where deprived of oxygen, they release methane. When bioplastics are not discarded properly, they can contaminate batches of recycled plastic and harm recycling infrastructure. Lame.
Cardboard & kraft paper: Oh you’re still reading? Cardboard and kraft paper, even sourced from FSC forests, are a huge bummer for biodiversity and completely stupid use of resources. Cardboard actually had the heaviest carbon footprint of all packaging.
Could we keep our forests for something nice? Like I don’t know, mushrooms picking?
Plastic mailers: This might surprise you, but the CO2 impact of manufacturing a thin plastic mailer is actually quite low. BUT this does not mean you should go for it! Inevitably, those mailers end up in the waste streams and will pollute the planet and the atmosphere long after they’re disposed of. Ever heard of microplastics? Yeah, not cute.