The debate between paper and plastic packaging from an environmental perspective hinges on multiple factors, including resource extraction, production processes, and disposal methods. Paper, derived from renewable sources like trees, often appears environmentally friendly. However, its production demands substantial water and energy, and deforestation for paper production can lead to habitat loss and biodiversity decline. Conversely, plastic, derived from non-renewable fossil fuels, requires less energy during production and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
In terms of disposal, plastic presents a significant problem. It is non-biodegradable, persisting in landfills and oceans for centuries, posing threats to wildlife and marine ecosystems. Plastic waste contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis. On the other hand, paper, being biodegradable and recyclable, offers more sustainable disposal options. Proper recycling of paper products reduces the demand for raw materials and minimizes waste.
Recent developments have led to the emergence of biodegradable and compostable plastics, attempting to address plastic's end-of-life issues. However, these alternatives often require specific conditions to decompose, and their widespread adoption and appropriate disposal methods still face challenges.
To sum it up... From an environmental standpoint, paper packaging seems to have a slight edge due to its renewable nature and recyclability. However, the true solution lies in reducing overall packaging, encouraging responsible consumption, and investing in innovative, truly eco-friendly materials and recycling infrastructures to mitigate the environmental impact of both paper and plastic packaging.
Check out these 5 companies featured on Everlastly.com that have eliminated plastic from their packaging AND are using recycled carboard/paper: