13 Most Common Recyclable Packaging Materials That You Can Use

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Choosing to use recyclable materials is one way to take part in keeping the environment clean and healthy. Try to more sustainable with your packaging options.

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Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Packoi Team

But what are your options when it comes to recyclable packaging materials?

If you think that corrugated boxes, paper, and paperboard packaging materials are the only things that can be recycled, that’s not true. You don’t have to limit yourself to using only paper packaging material.

In this article, you’ll discover other environmentally friendly packaging materials that you can use to create the outer and inner layers of your packaging.

4 Common Recyclable Materials Other Than Paper Packaging

recyclable packaging

When it comes to recyclable packaging materials, the first thing that comes to mind is paper packaging or paperboard containers.

But the truth is recycling facilities accept different packaging materials. Each of them helps improve our long-standing problem with packaging waste.

That means you don’t have to limit yourself to corrugated packaging if you want to be more sustainable. 

You can be creative with your packaging design by trying out these common packaging materials that are also deemed to be recyclable.

1. Plastic Packaging

Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you stop using plastic. Although single-use plastic packaging is overflowing landfills, there are just some packaging solutions that only plastic can fill.

So to solve this dilemma, we need to start recycling plastic. You have to choose among the plastic packaging materials and make sure you’re using the ones that can be recycled.

For instance, low-density polyethylene is not widely accepted in recycling plants and is the most popular material for plastic grocery bags.

If you want to use recyclable plastic, make sure you’re using polyethylene terephthalate. It’s more recyclable and thus eco-friendly.

You also have bio-based plastic options. Do your research and find biodegradable alternatives to plastic. These have the same functionality as plastic, but they can easily decompose.

plastic packaging

2. Glass Packaging

Another recyclable option, other than paper packaging, is glass. The thing about this material is it can be recycled infinitely. It won’t lose its original qualities, even if it’s recycled several times.

Glass can also be protected from leaks or contamination – making it a great option for food containers.

But the thing about glass is it consumes a lot of energy to melt and recycle into another product. That means it has a high carbon emission.

While this may seem alarming, glass still has another redeeming quality. Because of the durability of glass, it can be reused. This is why it’s one of the best sustainable packaging materials that you can use for your packaging needs.

3. Metal Packaging

metal packaging

Metal is also another material that can be recycled infinitely. But unlike glass, metal doesn’t require as much energy to melt and reproduce. That means it has lower carbon emissions.

This is also a great food packaging material – that’s why you see a lot of aluminum cans being used in the industry. Metal can keep contamination and leaks low.

If designed correctly, this material can help reduce packaging waste further. You can make it reusable so it doesn’t get thrown immediately. It can stay away from landfills longer.

4. Wood Packaging

This forest-based product is another packaging material that you can use instead of paper-based corrugated boxes.

wood packaging

It’s more durable than other paper-based or corrugated packaging and it’s also recyclable. Another benefit of using this packaging is it comes from a renewable source. But you have to make sure that the supplier you’re getting the wood materials from is certified.

One of the certifications you can look for is the FSC certificate. This means they get their wood from responsibly managed forests. It also means the company practices environmentally friendly processes and operations.

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5 Outer Packaging Materials That Are Recyclable

Different packaging materials have been created to meet the sustainable preferences of the market. In the past, the eco-friendly and cost-efficient options only revolve around paper and plastic products.

Over time, paper products became the favorite, specifically corrugated cardboard, because everyone seems to think that it’s the best environmentally-friendly material. While it is eco-friendly, the fact that everyone started using it means it’s harder to be sustainable and still stand out in the market.

But with the emergence of new packaging materials, you can now be more creative and unique with your packaging options.

Here are the new recyclable materials that you can use to make your outer packaging look impressive.

5. Glassine Packaging

This is like a mix of paper and plastic packaging. It looks smooth and translucent with a glossy feel. It’s made from wood pulp – technically making it as recyclable as paper.

Thanks to the way it’s manufactured, it becomes acid-free and pH-neutral. Although it’s paper, it’s effectively resistant to grease, moisture, and air. It’s also created to have a higher density so it’s more durable than paper.

Because of its density, glassine packaging is harder to tear – so it can secure and seal whatever you put within it.

6. Mushroom Packaging

Apart from being recyclable, mushroom packaging is also very sustainable. It’s made of fungi – which can easily be reproduced. It only takes 7 days for it to grow and be created into moldable shapes.

Mushroom packaging has the same qualities as plastic in terms of its durability and ability to protect products. But it doesn’t use much energy to create – at least, not as much as when you create plastic.

The best part is mushroom packaging goes beyond being recyclable. This environmentally friendly packaging is compostable. That means you don’t have to send it to recycling facilities. You can use it as food for your garden.

mushroom packaging

7. Cellulose Packaging

This eco-friendly packaging comes from natural sources, specifically cotton, wood, and hemp. This is one of the biodegradable plastics that can replace traditional plastic. It’s moisture-resistant – making it a great alternative to food packaging.

Cellulose is an organic compound that comes from plants. A lot of cellulose packaging is taken from wood pulp and cotton linters. It can be recycled and even reused if it has the right design.

8. Seaweed Packaging

This is another environmentally friendly packaging solution that’s revolutionizing sustainable efforts. Seaweed packaging is manufactured from agar, a gel sustenance that comes from algae and seaweed.

Experts have devised a way to extract agar so it can be processed into packaging material. There are several dehydration processes to make this happen. If you want the agar to be soft, it should first be frozen so it becomes stiff before it’s compressed.

Thanks to the nature of the source, this biodegradable packaging solution is gaining popularity today.

9. Cornstarch Packaging

Cornstarch Packaging

This packaging material uses the organic compound corn starch. This comes from the maize plant and possesses the same qualities as plastic.

It can be molded into different forms like bottles, containers, bags, etc.

While this seems like a great way to solve the problem with plastic, there’s one issue with this packaging.

A lot of products rely on the maize plant – specifically as a food supply. Using it for packaging purposes could lead to a price increase in corn. This can become a problem in the overall food chain.

You might want to consider that before deciding to use this sustainable packaging.

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4 Inner Packaging and Design Elements That Are Recyclable

It’s not just the outer packaging that enjoys eco-friendly alternatives. Even the inner packaging, like fillers and labels, can use sustainable packaging materials.

You have to realize that these also contribute to the growing packaging waste problem. So if you can use biodegradable or even compostable packaging materials, that would benefit the environment greatly.

Here are some of the options that you have.

10. Green-Cell Cushioning Foam

Foam is a common filler that can protect a product while it’s inside the packaging. But the most common material used for this, styrofoam, is harmful to the environment.

Fortunately, experts have created a bio-based material that can act as an eco-friendly substitute for styrofoam. Green Cell Foam is from maize plants. It’s biodegradable – you can dissolve it in water or use it as compost at home.

11. Compostable Packing Peanuts

Packaging peanuts are necessary – but they can be incredibly wasteful. They get all over the place, and they are not used after a product is taken out of its packaging.

This is why creating compostable packing peanuts is a great idea. It can be used as compost. You can send it to be recycled. Just like tissue paper, you don’t have to worry about using this because it won’t add to our problems with packaging waste.

food packaging

12. Air Pillows Made of Recycled Materials

This is another eco-friendly alternative that’ll become very popular. Even while made of plastic, air pillows are incredibly useful. The fact that it uses air as a filler means minimal plastic packaging material is used.

That’s already a good thing.

But if the plastic is made of recycled materials, this makes it more eco-friendly. Plastic can be recycled several times before it has to be sent to landfills. This can be a great way to solve the packaging waste problem.

13. Hemp Labels

The design elements used on the outer packaging can also be more eco-friendly. Although paper labels seem like the obvious option, there are plant-based options like hemp labels that you can use.

These labels are usually a mixture of hemp and post-consumer waste among the different packaging materials. The percentage would vary depending on who manufactured them.

But as you use this label, check the adhesive you’ll be using to attach it to the packaging. Don’t use petroleum-based adhesive. Use eco-friendly alternatives.

Discover the Perfect Solution for Your Business with Packoi Printing

Recyclability isn’t just about using paper and paperboard packaging materials. You have several recyclable options that you can use to be more eco-friendly in your packaging solutions.

What’s important is that you get your packaging materials from the right source. How will you know if your supplier is the right one?

You have to look for a certification. For instance, Packoi Printing is an FSC-certified company. This means our products are sustainably sourced. Specifically, our paper products come from responsibly managed forests. Get your FSC-certified packaging!

So let us know if you want to get your recyclable packaging materials from the right source. We have a lot of options that you can choose from.

Give us a call with your ideas. We’ll get back to you with a fair quotation in no time.

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Hey there, I’m Shelly!

I really enjoy the packaging and printing industry because my work makes my clients’ products more beautiful and enjoyable. If you have any questions about packaging and printing, feel free to contact me!

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