We strongly believe in reducing the overall suffering footprint in this world - and sustainability plays a major role in it. There is a dire need for reducing usage of materials that take the longest to decompose and cause enormous harm to the planet and its creatures.
Plastic is one such material which has been at the epicenter of most environmental discussions. No matter how much we try to minimize its use, we are still stuck with using a lot of it. Probably it’s not entirely justifiable, but we still have our reasons.
Why is “Packaging” so important for any brand?
Packaging safeguards the product throughout its logistics chain and ensures that it is completely protected from humidity, light, heat and other external factors that might damage the product.
We make every endeavour to ensure that our product reaches you safely and in its original condition, so that it can be retained for its maximum shelf life. Hence, choosing the right kind of packaging plays a pivotal role, not just in establishing the visual identity of our brand, but also in protecting the freshness and longevity of our products.
The ideal packaging material ought to score high on functionality, cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability, while at the same time be visually appealing. Although this may seem simple to achieve, in reality, packaging options ranging from glass and paper to plastic, come with their own set of pros and cons.
How bad is Plastic as a packaging material?
Plastic is the most widely used packaging material, especially in the food and beverage industry, for multiple reasons but mainly because plastic is cheap, which in turn ensures that the affordability of the product is maintained. Moreover, plastic can be made food-grade safe, is strong and hard-wearing, and being the most versatile packaging material it can be moulded into any shape, making the final product visually attractive. However, being the most convenient and durable packaging material comes at a cost.
Plastics are non-biodegradable, meaning that they may take upto 600 years for plastic to degrade into soil, which has led to a growing concern in recent years. The amount of plastic piling up in our oceans, landfills and even in space, is alarming. This has prompted the world to come up with solutions for resolving the problems caused by widespread use of plastic across different industries.
What kind of Plastic do we use?
We package our products in PET plastic jars. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a highly recyclable plastic resin and a form of polyester. Although it’s not the most sustainable packaging material, the fact that it can be recycled gives an edge over ordinary plastic.
What is the closest alternative to Plastic?
“Bioplastics” are one such modern solution, which has been formulated to counter the problems caused by unmindful dumping of plastics. Using a blend of degradable and non-biodegradable components, which are all recyclable, bioplastics are becoming a popular alternative to plastics. Yet, the types of bioplastics that are safe for storing foods, are few and expensive, and bioplastics usually find application in the manufacturing of garbage bags and cutlery. As a matter of fact, there is an ongoing debate about the biodegradability of bioplastics.
What do experts have to say about Bioplastics?
Experts argue that the addition of chemicals in a bid to make the packaging more durable, increases the time it takes for such bioplastics to degrade by several decades. Further, the recycling process of plastic waste like PET bottles is curtailed, if bioplastics get mixed with ordinary plastic during waste disposal, as happens often.
Polylactic Acid or PLA seems to be the most readily available bioplastic today. However, PLA becomes compromised as it comes into contact with something hot. This leaves PLA unsuited for use as a packaging material because products are often heated to very high temperatures during the manufacturing process and then filled into packaging.
Another major concern with bioplastics, is that the technology which is required to produce and subsequently recycle used bioplastics is relatively experimental at this stage. Meaning thereby, that the facilities where bioplastics are produced and subsequently processed post usage, are currently non-existent in India. Importing bioplastic packaging from abroad, and then exporting the used waste would exponentially increase the price of a product, striking at its affordability.
So, are Bioplastics a better alternative to ordinary plastic packaging?
With the food-packaging technology that is presently available, bioplastics are only slightly more biodegradable than ordinary plastic and much costlier. Moreover, the long-term impact of bioplastic on the environment remains largely unknown as the addition of fortifying additives to make bioplastic packaging more durable or food-grade safe, gives rise to a tendency to persist in nature. With a lack of facilities to process bioplastic waste in India, bioplastics often end up in a landfill with other plastic, for a very long time.
Coming back, why do we STILL use Plastic?
At Peepal Farm, it is our topmost priority to make products that are of superior quality and can be delivered to you safely, while retaining their wholesomeness throughout their shelf life. We believe in inculcating a sustainable and plant-based lifestyle for everyone. This puts us in a tricky situation because investing in expensive modern bioplastic packaging (which also have a tendency to persist in nature) will drastically increase the price of the products, making it inaccessible to many.
There is no doubt that plastics or plastic based packaging is a major concern to the environment and we need to transition to a safer alternative. Yet the infrastructure and technology required to go plastic-free is still in the developmental stage and has a long way to go. Attempting to use this technology in its present stage, may reduce the impact on the environment only negligibly, but will cause the prices of products to rise prohibitively, making it harder for people to buy and consume our products.
Will we ever stop using Plastic?
Yes! We are committed to continuously evolving our products and its packaging, so as to ensure maximum consumer satisfaction and minimum environmental footprint. However, as we wait for more sustainable food packaging technology to reach India, we have to make do with plastics to ensure that our products are accessible to all.
But, we hope that the day is not too far when our packaging gets rid of plastic completely and we can contribute to our environmental cause even more strongly!