Why recycling must be thought through to the end


“The Ghosts I Called I Can’t Get Rid of Now”. If plastic had already been a topic at the end of the 18th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe might not have written a poem about brooms with water buckets, but about plastic bags and plastic cups …

Since plastic, as an all-purpose wonder, overtook the world with durable, light and hygienic products that were also cheap and often brightly coloured, a lot has happened. Who would have thought back then of mountains of rubbish stretching to the horizon or fish dying after getting caught in floating plastic waste? 

Since the 1970s, recycling has been supposed to solve the problem, and new packaging regulations are currently aimed at increasing recycling rates. 

But is this really a solution?

Of course, it is better if plastic items are melted down and cleaned to make new products – plastic film, for example – and thus reused. But what comes after that? 

Even plastic packaging that has been recycled several times ends up at the end of its life cycle on one of the ever-growing mountains of rubbish or in the sea. If it even gets that far. Because far too much plastic ends up on the side of the road, in the woods or in the fields due to carelessness or convenience, where in the worst case they exist for hundreds of years! 

But what if packaging that is not disposed of correctly and improperly finds its way into nature had a plan B?

Untreated natural fibres such as paper or cardboard would decompose after a relatively short time. However, in many cases these do not offer sufficient protection for the packaged goods, neither against moisture nor against microorganisms or mould. Then again, if biodegradable products are provided with a protective film, this is usually made of polluting materials.

An insoluble dilemma?

Re-thinking packaging means: we need a method that gives biodegradable material new, superphobic and food-safe properties without affecting its compostability.

This is exactly what has been achieved with the product innovation SiOPack®! The ultra-thin nanopool coating equips untreated paper or cardboard with a protective barrier that repels moisture, dirt and microorganisms, but is itself 100% decomposable and also recyclable.

Whether a SiOPack® cardboard box is recycled responsibly or thrown away carelessly – nature does not suffer!