Living With Climate Change: Paper or plastic? Instead ask which companies are innovating recycling

by | Apr 5, 2023 | Stock Market

Paper or plastic? If you’re looking to invest in the packaging that’s best for the environment, the answer is… it’s complicated. At a time when more states and municipalities are banning plastic shopping bags and a growing number of shareholder proposals aim to eradicate all plastic packaging, many investors understandably assume that the best choice is paper.

In fact, the opposite is true. That is, right up to the point at which a container has finished the task it was built to do. Plastic packaging is much cheaper to manufacture, which is why it remains a popular method. Many studies conclude that using a plastic package also emits less greenhouse gas
because it requires so much less material than paper and paperboard packages for the same amount of protection. It’s stronger and lighter than paper products, which mean emissions from transporting plastic packages is also lower. Of course, that’s only half the story. Once you’ve opened your new toaster, installed the replacement garage door opener or put away the groceries, there’s still the matter of disposing of the shopping bag, boxes and shrink wrap. And that’s where paper products today put the hurt on plastics. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 80% of paper and paperboard packaging is recycled in the U.S., compared to less than 9% for plastic. Globally, the …

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