There have been great advances in the manufacturing of sustainable product packaging, rather than using plastic (three million tons of plastic are thrown away in the UK annually).
British company Greenbottle make a biodegradable milk bottle that uses a smart two-part system to aid recycling. The bottles are composed of a cardboard outer manufactured from pulped, recycled cardboard, which is lined with an inner sleeve of biodegradable plastic made from corn starch. The plastic keeps the cardboard from becoming soggy, and the cardboard makes for easy transport, storage and pouring. Once the bottle is empty, the inner sleeve can be pulled out and will decompose in a landfill within six weeks. The cardboard outer can be put out for recycling with other paper or thrown in with kitchen and garden waste for home composting.
The bottles currently cost up to 30% more than their plastic counterparts, but costs will go down once production steps up.
Also a French company called Sidel have created a new bottle called “water skin” that is a lighter alternative to traditional PET bottles. A regular plastic half-litre water bottle weighs 13 – 16 grams, however Sidel’s NoBottle weighs just 9.9 grams. According to Sidel, “Water is the largest beverage market by volume with 160 billion litres consumed in 2006. It also represents the highest growth sector and is expected to expand by 5.7 percent annually between now and 2010.” On that scale, waste reduction of 20-30% adds up.
By using a highly flexible type of plastic with shape-memory, which lets the bottle bounce back into shape after being gripped or otherwise compressed, they can achieve these impressive gains. Whilst clearly using plastic at all isn’t eco-friendly it is definitely eco-friendlier than current bottles.
Do you know of any better or innovative solutions to reducing plastic bottle waste?