The incineration of packaging waste has increasingly been receiving attention, given that it is considered a better option than landfills. Compared to landfills, incineration allows far more efficient use of space. In locations where landfills are full and extra space is scarce, incineration can be a better choice and it may be used to turn waste into energy. These facilities use high-temperature waste combustion to boil water as well as power steam generators, which produce electricity that may be delivered via the power grid. Lastly, incineration lowers the carbon footprint. Waste incineration facilities can be built close to where waste is produced, reducing the costs, energy, and emissions involved with waste transportation.
With all these advantages, why would you look for alternatives to incinerating packaging waste?
Incineration isn’t perfect
Although incineration has several advantages, it isn’t a perfect solution to packaging waste management. Incineration appears to be a textbook example of a “second-best” remedy: better than the worst, but far from the best we can achieve.
One of the disadvantages of this method of disposing of packaging waste is its high expense. Incineration facilities are costly to establish and run. So, state or local governments running on tight budgets will find this alternative not viable.
Additionally, incineration of packaging waste doesn’t solve the problem of the emission of toxic or hazardous pollutants. In comparison to former incineration plants that were negligent in this area, incineration plants reduce harmful poison emissions to a bare minimum. However, emissions continue to occur. One of the biggest reasons incineration programs fail is a fear of harmful contamination. Even with the most advanced methods, incineration plants continue to be massive generators of carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global climate change.
The last and most compelling reason why there are objections to the incineration of solid waste is the issue of opportunity costs. That is, the belief that the activities we take inherently prevent other actions that would be more successful if given the opportunity. Some detractors of incineration argue that it ultimately encourages more trash generation because incinerators require vast amounts of rubbish to keep the fires burning, and local governments may choose incineration over better waste reduction efforts.
So, what alternatives should we explore?
Adopting the zero-waste mindset would be extremely cost-effective, regardless of whether we could achieve its most ambitious aims. It would shift our collective mindset from reactive to proactive, changing the underlying behaviors and attitudes of our throw-away society—something that incineration does not.
Here are the alternatives we may need to explore when it comes to handling packaging waste. They help support the zero-waste approach to waste management.
This is among the popular waste management methods. People with gardens are advised to compost their packaging waste instead of tossing it. Organic packing materials are collected and placed in an appropriate receptacle to degrade. Once this procedure is accomplished, it can be applied to the soil to provide natural nutrients, assisting in plant development and allowing gardeners to cultivate fruits and vegetables. Small farmers use this approach to make fertilizer.
While composting may be a viable method for dealing with packaging waste, it may not be useful in all instances. It can only be applicable to packages made from organic and biodegradable materials. It isn’t a viable option when it comes to dealing with plastic packages, whose use increased especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, we may include this approach as one of the methods we can use to reduce the negative effect of waste on the environment, despite the small contribution it will make.
- Reconsidering packaging material
Businesses, such as GPA Global, are now experimenting with a variety of packing materials to ensure efficient garbage disposal. Adopting these materials could be one approach to lessening the demand for incineration plants. They include:
These packages are used in heavy industries. These are environmentally friendly, entirely biodegradable, and far less expensive than plastic. The cardboard panels and boxes are typically made from responsibly sourced lumber. These take up significantly less space in an industrial unit. As a result, as a company, you may achieve your sustainability objectives flawlessly.
It is yet another popular ecological packaging solution. It is widely utilized by winemakers, who have discovered a suitable replacement for polystyrene blocks. Polystyrene is a chemical that is difficult to break down and is not recyclable. Fungi packaging, on the other hand, degrades in a matter of weeks, allowing for better waste management.
- The most effective alternative: The four Rs
Reusing, recycling, reusing, and reducing provide a more efficient solution to our continuous rubbish disposal problem. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a handful of incinerated waste is surely easier to manage than a pound of raw junk.
Recycling and trash reduction must be seen as our first line of defense in order to minimize our total waste stream, and this includes composting organic waste rather than tossing it away. If we think about that now, there is no such thing as “away,” because all waste has to go somewhere.
If we took advantage of every opportunity possible to recycle the metal, plastic, glass, rubber, and other non-organic waste that is discarded, and composted as much of the excess organic materials as we possibly could, zero waste advocates believe we could reduce our garbage production by up to 80%.
We could get rid of much of the rest through repurposing and reuse, as well as detailed planning to decrease our waste creation from the start, they contend—and for the largest part, they do so convincingly.
In terms of overall environmental impact, and when compared to landfills, incinerators have a lot to offer. Nonetheless, incineration appears to be far from the ideal approach for dealing with packaging trash. Alternatives to packaging waste incineration are those that focus on zero-waste goals. They include decomposing, using alternative packaging materials, and adopting the 4 Rs (reusing, recycling, reusing, and reducing). We may consider focusing on these approaches to reduce wastage, which would reduce the need for incineration.
GPA Global is committed to providing tailored packaging solutions that reduce waste and overall environmental impact. You can be sure that their packaging solutions consider the entire lifecycle of the product, eliminate potential negative environmental impacts, and employ data-backed methods and materials.