Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Google rolls out new plastic-free design guide that could revolutionize packaging industry: ‘It’s a major challenge, but one that can be addressed’

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Tech giant Google publicly set a goal in 2020 to eliminate all plastics from its electronics packaging by 2025. Now, with 2025 right around the corner, the company’s packaging is 99% plastic-free, Packaging Dive reported — and Google has released a “Plastic Free Packaging Design Guide” to lay out the steps and approach it is taking to tackle this issue. 

“The plastic pollution crisis demands a fundamental shift in how we design, produce, use, and dispose of plastic. It’s a major challenge, but one that can be addressed,” the guide reads.

The 69-page guide lays out a comprehensive breakdown of how ubiquitous plastic packaging is, what its environmental consequences are, and how it can be effectively replaced. It includes Google’s five packaging principles that guided the process:

• Prioritize recyclability
• Minimize waste
• Maximize accessibility
• Protect products
• Embrace innovation

These principles led the company to turn mostly toward fiber alternatives to plastic packaging, such as molded fiber, greyboard, and corrugated paper. 

“Materials like paper and cardboard offer a compelling alternative to conventional plastics; they are renewable but can also be made from recycled content. They break down easily and integrate into the vast majority of existing consumer-facing recycling systems,” the guide says, making the case for fiber alternatives to plastic.

Plastic pollution is an ever-growing problem for our planet — in particular, for our oceans, which can receive around 10 million metric tons (roughly 11 million tons) of plastic waste every year, according to UNESCO.

There are likely 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics in the ocean. This has devastating consequences for marine animals, as many of them mistake pieces of plastic for food or become trapped in them.

More companies may find inspiration from Google’s Plastic Free Packaging Design Guide and use it as a resource. To truly address the plastic pollution crisis, the corporations responsible for the bulk of the pollution must take major steps to change their practices, instead of simply passing the responsibility on to their customers.

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