Is Plant Based Packaging a Good Idea?

bio packagingAn emerging trend in the packaging world is to use plant-based packaging or ‘bio-based’ packaging. This material has sparked academic, industry, and philosophical debate about whether adding “packaging” to the many uses for food stuffs is a good idea.  Yes, plants are a renewable resource, but with the several competing uses of these resources (food for human consumption, feed for animals, ethanol, biodiesel, and traditional burning fuel), is packaging the best use for possible food or energy products? Most corn and soy in the U.S. is also of a genetically modified variety, leading to a whole other set of questions about what is a “sustainable” bio-material for packaging.

A good article “The Challenges of Using the Earth to Grow Energy” by sustainability consultant, Alan AtKisson talks in more depth about these packaging challenges with bio-based materials.

To learn about some of the companies that are using bio-based materials see this article by GreenBiz, “Five Global Companies to Push Plant Based Packaging”.

Recycling non-Traditional Business Materials

When we think about recycling today, EPA Graphwe typically think about regular recyclable items such as plastic bottles, aluminum, glass and tin cans.  There are also now resources to recycle other office items such as Styrofoam, batteries, cell phones, CD’s and electronics. With our landfills becoming full, toxic and more expensive it is important for businesses to do their part to recycle as much as waste as possible. Here is a list of resources and office items that you can recycle. Don’t see an item listed? Visit our full list of recycling and donation resources for more recycling resources for businesses.

  • Styrofoam Packing Peanuts

Thanks to groups like the Plastic Loose Fill Council, the ways in which we recycle styrofoam are finally moving into the 21st century.  They have created a program in which used packing materials are repurposed for other business to use.  So, rather than adding those packing peanuts to the landfill, consider sending them a box full.

  • Batteries

The worst thing about batteries is how toxic and damaging they are when left to decompose in our environment. First, check with the battery manufacturer as many times they offer recycling programs for their products.  You can also contact Call2Recycle for locations that accept batteries for responsible recycling.

  • Cell Phones

You probably have see the cell phone recycling bins at your local big box electronics store or in the lobby of the cell phones stores but, did you know that there are other alternatives?  A cell phone can be a huge blessing to those in our third world countries so Collective Good can make that happen.  Domestic violence victims would also be very appreciative of your old phone so the NCADV will happily take it off your hands and put it to good use.

  • Bio-Plastics and Bio-degradable Materials

These are plastics made from lactic acid, soy protein or vegetable starches.  Through naturally occurring processes these plastics will break down over time, completely and without releasing toxins into our soil. If you need to find a recycler for these items contact FindAComposter.com and they will help put you in touch.  By making the effort to compost these products we will encourage the industry to continue to produce earth-friendly bio-plastics.

  • E-Waste (Computers, Printers, Monitors)

KOPEG (Keep Our Planet Earth Green) has an excellent recycling program that can also serve as a way to raise funds.  Encourage recycling of items like old cell phones or MP3 players, broken digital cameras, obsolete PDAs and more, and they will help you turn it into cash.

If you aren’t sure how to recycle a material, Contact us to find out more!

Stop Using Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) in Your Office

A substance is determined to be toxic by it’s ability to cause damage on a cellular level or even effect the whole body.  This damage may be visible, such as a burn or it may be invisible damage, such as organ damage, cancer or memory loss.  Most chemicals enter the body via the lungs, the mouth, the skin and the eyes that occur with cleaning supplies, stain and water resistant products.  In the office environment people should be especially concerned with exposure to PFCs, or Perfluorinated Compounds.  PFCs are chemicals with stain-resistant or water-resistant properties.  They are applied on office furniture, carpet, food packaging and food preparation pans and utensils.  Our contact with these materials is one of the reasons PFCs are now more commonly found in our blood.

3M’s Scotchguard was discontinued in 2002 when studies found PFCs in their carpet, furniture and clothing treatments. However, not all manufacturers have discontinued use. PFCs are still found in teflon coated cooking utensils and on most office furniture.  One source that many people are unaware of, is the use of these in our food packaging such as the grease-resistant lining on pizza boxes and the inside of microwave popcorn bags.

There is still much to learn about how these and other chemicals can affect our long term health.  The EPA has developed a recommended action plan for all companies to take to avoid exposure until studies are completed and assurances can be made.  The Washington Toxics Coalition also provides good tips and recommendations. There are many alternatives with all of these materials that are considered non-toxic, safe for the environment and for your employees.

If you need help finding non-toxic alternatives please contact us, we would be happy to help.

Recycling Resources- good for business and good for the environment

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment. It is good for business. Taking used materials and re-purposing them not only saves valuable resources, it can save money and create a much cleaner, more eco-friendly world.

You may not have thought of many of the underlying reasons why recycling is good. For one, recovering old materials for new uses helps to keep manufacturing jobs located in the United States, according to the EPA. That can help the nation maintain its competitive edge, even in tough economic times.

Recycling also lowers the need for landfills and incinerators that burn rubbish, which in turn helps to preserve space for other uses and decrease the amount of trash-related pollution released in the air we breathe. Along the same lines, recycling also prevents toxins linked to making new goods out of raw materials from entering the atmosphere because those products don’t have to be made in the first place. Moreover, recycling helps us conserve valuable natural resources, including the forests where wood is found as well as water supplies and raw minerals.

In short, there are many reasons to recycle, but the first step always begins with businesses taking the initiative to set up systems to make it successful in the workplace.

Click here for a comprehensive list of recycling resources especially for hard-to-recycle items not usually taken by waste management facilities.

If you’re interested in setting up recycling for your business don’t hesitate to contact us.