Can you identify sustainable packaging?
All consumer products, from food to packaging, are produced from environmental resources and therefore have an effect on the planet.
In the Sustainable Development Goals number 12 talks about both responsible production and responsible consumption. Businesses have a responsibility to try to use as few resources as possible in our activities and to use materials that are sustainable for the planet and the consumer. Consumers, for their part, have a responsibility to dispose of packaging and waste in the right place and in the right way.
But sometimes it is not easy to recognise the meaning of the symbols and concepts that identify packaging. Knowing them is important to be able to recognise those products with more sustainable and recyclable packaging. Here are some of the most commonly used symbols and their meaning:
Biodegradable: That can be decomposed into natural chemical elements by the action of biological agents such as bacteria, plants or animals, together with other physical agents such as the sun or water. This decomposition occurs under natural environmental conditions that transform these substances into nutrients, carbon dioxide, water and biomass. In other words, simple and harmless compounds that serve as nutrients in the environment. In this process, the material is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until finally there is no physical evidence of its existence.
Compostable: It can be biodegraded biologically producing carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass in a controlled period of time giving rise to compost, which through a circular flow of waste ends up being reused as fertiliser for fields.
Recyclable: It can undergo the process by which a waste is converted into new products or raw material for the manufacture of other products.
But any of these attributes will be diluted if the material is not placed in the correct container for proper management.
Green dot symbol.
This symbol indicates that the packaging company is responsible for ensuring the correct management of the packaging by participating in the packaging waste management model. However, this symbol does not identify any quality or attribute regarding the recyclability of the material.
Mobius Loop symbol.
Cuando este símbolo aparece solo en el envase, indica que los materiales con los que ha sido fabricado son reciclables.
If a percentage symbol appears inside the triangle, this indicates how much of the packaging can be recycled.
If the triangle is inside a circle, this indicates that recyclable product and a proportion of recycled materials have been used in the manufacture of the packaging.
Plastic recycling symbols
This triangular-shaped symbol indicates that the plastic material is recyclable. Inside it there is a number that indicates the type of plastics involved for the correct recycling process.
- PET o PETE: Polyethylene terephthalate. It is a typical plastic used in food and beverage packaging. It is highly recyclable.
- HDPE: High Density Polyethylene. Most commonly found in packaging for cleaning products or chemicals. It is highly recyclable.
- V o PVC: Vinyl or Polyvinyl Chloride. It is a very resistant material but its recycling is very complex.
- LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene. Strong, flexible and transparent. It can be easily recycled.
- PP: Polypropylene. It can contain liquids and hot food. It can be recycled to obtain resistant materials.
- PS: Polystyrene. Used for low-strength packaging and has a low melting point. It is difficult to recycle.
- Others: These remaining plastics are often difficult to recycle.
Celebrate this 17th May, World Recycling Day, by increasing your knowledge about recycling and contributing to building an increasingly sustainable way of life.