We have been home for more than a year. Due to the restrictions, shops closed and owners were forced to quickly adapt to the whims of the pandemic. Businesses figured out how to get their products to customers: they set up online shops, warehouses, and learned to pack and send packages. How can this be done so it does not harm the environment?
Shipping companies have rules that push environmental standards to the background. It is easier for them to request new materials. As they want to deliver the shipment safely, it’s not just about boxes or plastic packaging. It is also essential to secure the contents of the order with filling so that they do not move around. The box must also be sealed with tape to prevent the product from falling out of the package during handling.
SECOND HAND BOXES
Buying new cardboard boxes creates unnecessary waste that could be avoided. A more environmental option is to reuse boxes from the supermarket or from shoes. These boxes, often in perfect condition, are free. Supermarkets are happy to supply them, as they thus get rid of waste that they would otherwise have to dispose of.
However, using second-hand boxes is time-consuming, and requires storage and handling. Nevertheless, an increasing number of small businesses choose this path, such as Vita Books bookstore in Nová Dubnica. “We use the materials in which we receive the goods, we do not buy it. We also give cardboard boxes to local people if they ask for them.” said the owner Dana Hübschová.
Packages must include filling. The most commonly used fillers for packages are bubble wrap, and Flo-pak, which are green polystyrene pillows. Both are cheap and protect goods well, so they are popular. The low price outweighs their environmentally unfriendly nature. However, the market offers a number of environmentally friendly alternatives, such as cardboard filler, recycled wrapping paper or recyclable air cushions.
The company JAVI s.r.o. sells glassware, such as alcohol bottles and jam jars. “We need to make sure that they are thoroughly packaged. Fragile goods require safe transport, so we need a large volume of void filler,” said saleswoman Lívia Daňová.
This company, decided to solve the problem by reusing boxes and fillers, such as bubble wrap and stretch film, in which they receive goods. They also use scraps from their homes and acquaintances. However, this path is not for everyone. Wholesalers have to look for their own alternatives. One could be cardboard filler, which is new to many people. Cardboard boxes, which are no longer suitable for further use as packaging, are cut into thin strips through a special shredder. The result is an ecological alternative to bubble wrap.
Tape has an environmentally friendly alternative, but plastic tape used most often. However, not removing it from the box will make it impossible to recycle the entire box, and it will end up in the incinerator. Paper tape is environmentally friendly, but more expensive. The most ecologically sound way to seal packages is with water activated paper tape. The brown paper has a layer of starch glue on it, which becomes sticky after you moisten it. As this tape is made of paper, it can be easily recycled with the cardboard.
It is clear from statements made by merchants that they are not indifferent to the environment, but their decision-making is influenced by price, availability and customer demand. An easy way to help the environment is to reduce the number of shipments. We can order together, with people we know, which will not only reduce the amount of packaging used, but also reduce the carbon footprint caused by transport.
Some online stores offer the option of requesting recycled or biodegradable packaging when ordering. As not everyone thinks to ask, more retailers should offer this alternative to their customers. We don’t have to throw away the boxes our orders came in right away. There may be a local shop or company that would use the material from our package in its own operations, or we can reuse it again ourselves.
If there is no use for the box, it is important to remember how to dispose of it properly. If the waste bins are full because boxes have not been collapsed, garbage collectors come more often. A full bin prevents others from putting in their waste and paper accumulates next to it. It is important not only to disassemble the boxes, but also to remember to remove all excess parts, such as tape and buckles, which the merchant attached.
Break them down. Boxes that are not broken down take up a lot of space and make it impossible to use the container efficiently.
Author: Radka Lamačková
Age cathegory: 11-14 years