After a run-in with a paper laundry bag, Simon muses on the use of paper vs. plastic in packaging.

Hello Friends,

I’m a chronic over-packer. I am one of those people they write memes about, “Will I need 4 french horns or five?”. As a result, I often have trouble fitting everything I will definitely need into an already admittedly large suitcase. I’ve improved in this area, for a trip of a few weeks, I might take enough clothes to get me through 60-70% of the trip. I’ve been visiting customers in Europe for the last week and by Tuesday, the dirty laundry had started to accumulate. As I’m staying in one place for a few days, I decided to utilize the hotel’s laundry services to keep me going through to the end of my trip. This particular hotel happens to be in the Netherlands, where there are many active initiatives to reduce plastic, from cups… to laundry bags! I did my best to fit my clothes as best as possible into the hotel’s paper laundry bag, only stopping once I heard the dreaded *rip* as the bag began to split. 

I was able to get everything washed and packed away for the rest of the trip, but it got me thinking about the topic of plastic to paper conversion. I am one of paper’s best friends and a strong supporter of replacing currently un-recyclable packaging substrates with more sustainable options (like our Joncryl® products). With that said, I also don’t think that paper can replace plastic for everything. With a primary purpose to keep what’s inside, inside and to keep whatever is outside, outside, there are many scenarios where plastic packaging is probably still the best bet, especially for hazardous products or those designed for very sensitive populations. Perhaps a returnable cloth bag that is also washed and sanitized between each guest’s use (like sheets, hopefully) would ultimately be the most sustainable long-term solution in my particular case.

I recently discussed the use of paper packaging with a customer and they confirmed exactly this point; it has great opportunities for growth in share but ultimately there is a future of paper and plastic side-by-side. For quick, one-time consumption where we can convert a package without a compromise in performance and an improvement in recyclability, that might have the easiest path to bridge the plastic to paper divide. Other scenarios are also great fits for this concept, but just a bit more challenging. Our Joncryl HPB products are great components for use in formulating effective barrier coatings for paper substrates, I’m constantly impressed by how well they perform and how they open up the use of paper in new and exciting ways. I don’t think they’d help make a paper laundry bag more resilient…but they couldn’t hurt!

Happy packing,

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