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Environmental Packaging.

Environmental concerns among consumers, especially with regard to municipal solid waste recycling, will lead to an increased market for "environmentally friendly" packaging in the U.S., according to this study. This market will grow twice as rapidly as total packaging demand and will comprise nearly 55% of the $106 billion U.S. packaging market in 1996. The characteristics that will prove most popular among customers and consumers, and which packaging manufacturers will emphasize in their marketing efforts, are recyclability and degradability. Other characteristics that will be emphasized include materials/source reduction, reusability, low toxicity, and ozone friendliness.

Recycling offers such advantages as savings in energy, water, and natural resources consumption; air and water pollution reductions; prolonged lifespans of landfills; and reduced litter. In 1991 slightly over 31 billion lbs, or nearly 27% of all packaging, was recycled. According to the author, packaging recycling will grow 7% annually through 1996, to reach nearly 44 billion lbs. In particular, plastics recycling is expected to increase 29%/yr to 2.5 billion lbs in 1996. Recycled packaging, or packaging that actually contains some amount of secondary or recycled materials, is less costly to produce than new products, because of savings accrued through lower energy and raw materials costs.

Although initially pertaining solely to plastics, the characteristic of degradability will become more widely used as a marketing tool for paper and paperboard and some steel packaging. In 1991, packaging marked as "degradable" totaled 1.2 billion lbs. The study predicts that the amount of degradable packaging will grow more than 31% annually to reach 4.7 billion lbs in 1996. Some plastics and paper and paperboard will also be increasingly marketed as compostable.
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Publication:Plastics Engineering
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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