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Recycled vs New Materials – Which is Better to Protect Our Planet?

By Lauren Churcher  |  21 September 2021  |   3 minute read.
Eco Friendly

We’ve all been told that recycling plays a key role in saving the planet – but have you ever wondered how it helps, thought about what it does, or questioned what impact it actually has on the environment?

When it comes to recycling, as with most things in the fight against climate change, the small things you do really can and will make a big difference on a larger scale. But don’t just take our word for it – here are some statistics for what you’ve been wanting to know:

The Current Situation

In the UK, the most recent waste statistics show that we’re not doing too badly at all really, with 70.2% of packaging In the UK, the most recent waste statistics show that we’re actually not doing too badly at all, with 70.2% of packaging waste being either recycled or recovered. 

It’s a good start for sure, but it does mean that nearly a third of packaging isn’t making it’s way into the recycling bin. It’s crucial businesses start making a conscious effort with their packaging, and most importantly, telling their customers what to do once they’ve finished with it. You can spend a lot of money on ensuring your packaging is super eco-friendly, but if it doesn’t tell your customers what it is or what they need to do with it, it’s wasted effort, so brand your eco-friendly packaging with easy-to-understand messages or symbols for next steps.

However, all of the current UK recycling efforts are estimated to be saving more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year – the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road. This really goes to prove the power of a seemingly small effort from millions of individuals – it really does add up! 

The environmental benefits don’t stop with lower carbon emissions either – when recycled material makes its way back into the manufacturing process, the difference in using recycled and raw materials is very apparent.

Manufacturing Using Recycled Materials

Recycled paper can be made by using just a few non-hazardous chemicals, while virgin paper is produced with hundreds of hazardous and highly toxic chemicals. Not only that, but making paper from recycled paper uses 40% less energy, and emits 55% less air and water pollution than making it from virgin wood fibres.

The benefits don’t stop with paper either, as using just one tonne of recycled plastic saves 5,774 Kwh of energy and 16.3 barrels of oil. Simply ensuring the plastic waste from your household alone is properly disposed of would have such a large, positive impact on the environment, helping to get it back into the manufacturing process, and reducing the need for raw plastics.

With all of this in mind, you’re not alone in questioning if there’s really any positives associated with using raw or virgin materials? Well, are there? Let’s take a look.

Manufacturing Using Raw Materials

Using raw materials undoubtedly has a huge environmental impact, and not in a good way either. However, given the increased demand over recent years for more eco-friendly packaging, more and more manufacturers are choosing to use new, innovative materials which have a low environmental impact up-front and can be recycled time and time again.

For example, grass paper (exactly what the name suggests, paper made from grass), is brand new to the packaging world. Using grass to make paper uses 50% less raw material, 85% less energy, and 99% less water than wood does.

It’s important to bear in mind that you can only recycle a material so many times, so we’d never be able to completely remove raw materials from use. Grass is a fast growing, renewable resource that is naturally biodegradable and compostable, which would be far better for the environment to have in the supply chain than wood pulp paper. 

The Verdict

Without a doubt, the environmental benefits of using recycled materials far outweigh raw materials. If packaging could only be made from recycled materials the planet would be better for it. One thing is for certain, the more sustainable the raw material is, the better it’ll be for the planet the first time it’s used, and every time thereafter.

If you stop for a moment and think about your recycling efforts – do you do everything you could? Are you aware of the recyclability of everyday items you ordinarily throw away? Our Recycling Locator widget allows you to find what and where you can recycle materials and items – and even if it can be done at home or not. We know that recycling can make a huge difference in the fight against climate change, and all of our individual efforts will have a collective impact which we can be proud of.

Ask The Experts

If you have any questions or need advice on choosing the right eco friendly packaging for you and your business please contact us. eCommerce despatch operations are our speciality so if you have any unanswered questions or require further assistance then please get in touch – we’ll be more than happy to help. 

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