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Biodegradable Packaging vs. 100% Recycled: Which is Better? [Video]

Growing awareness of our impact on the environment is driving consumers and businesses to go green. But there are many options available, so where does one begin? 

One major factor a business needs to consider is how it packages its goods. Should you look to biodegradable packaging, or is it more beneficial to use 100% recycled materials? Let’s take a look and see which is better.


What Is Biodegradable?

Biodegradable packaging exists in many forms. Ideally, a biodegradable package is made of materials that will break down naturally while not leaving behind harmful byproducts. Some examples include biodegradable plastics, bioplastics and paper/cardboard. 

Bioplastics are derived from natural sources like sugarcane, milk proteins and starches. Biodegradable plastics are slightly different. They are a more traditional plastic, but chemicals are added to help break it down faster. 

It’s encouraging to know so many alternatives are available. However, the decision to choose biodegradable packaging as a business can still be daunting. While artificially-designed biodegradable packaging is a step in the right direction, drawbacks still exist.

Because most materials will eventually break down, the term itself can be misleading. Even if the package is truly biodegradable on a reasonable timeline, methane gas can result from the breakdown process. 

Since biodegradable packaging is made from natural materials, we still rely on farming to harvest these materials. These farming methods produce greenhouse emissions that negatively affect our ecosystem. To top it off, consumers cannot easily recycle these plastic alternatives themselves.

When it comes to biodegradable packaging, paper and cardboard are simple, natural options. Easily recyclable and made from nature, cardboard packaging is a safe and reliable solution.

Is 100% Recycled Better?

Recycling involves a process of repurposing used goods into new and usable resources. Each type of recyclable item has its own system:

  • Paper is sorted, washed and mixed with water and other elements to produce a new paper product.
  • Plastics are sorted by color, decontaminated, cut and melted down into a fresh material that can be used for many different purposes.

Aside from reducing the amount of waste in our landfills and oceans, recycling cuts down on the energy and resources required to produce new products, provides jobs and opens the door for even more environmentally-conscious efforts.

Despite our best efforts, a lot of discarded recyclables still wind up in landfills.

What About Recyclable?

Most packaging is actually already recyclable, even plastic poly mailers. But if you want to maximize your sustainability contribution to our home, choose a packaging option that's made from recycled materials. 

The Verdict

In this comparison, there’s not a clear winner. Some will advocate for biodegradable and others will champion 100% recycled.

To maximize your efforts toward environmental sustainability, the safest choice is a package that is constructed from recycled resources and is fully biodegradable.

At Brandable Box, we believe in offering products that satisfy both categories with our custom shipping boxes made from 100% recycled materials.

Our corrugated cardboard boxes in both kraft and white can also be recycled again after use. If discarded instead of recycled, the cardboard will break down easily. It’s the best of both worlds (or all three worlds?).

Browse our 100% recycled shipping boxes.

This article was written by our content freelancer, Sam Zell-Breier.

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