What are the disadvantages of paper packaging

Table of Contents

The disadvantages of paper packaging include higher production costs compared to plastic, limited recycling infrastructure impacting costs, and challenges in durability and protection for fragile items.

Environmental Impact of Paper Packaging

  • Deforestation and loss of biodiversity – first of all, it pertains to the production of paper packaging. According to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly 18 million acres of forest are lost annually, a part of which is the result of the requirements of the paper industry. Thousands of species of plants and animals are affected by these modifications, with deforestation becoming one of the most critical issues, as it brings to habitat destruction of many species.

  • Water consumption in paper production – as mentioned above, it is associated with a high volume of water required for manufacturing. More than 20,000 liters are demanded for a single ton of paper to be produced, whereas one A4 sheet requires about ten liters to be made. The local environment is being severely affected and damaged due to the waste discharged from the paper mills, as it transforms natural sources of water into contaminated ones, unsuitable for fauna and other industrial activities. Thousands of sites are affected each year, with millions of people being deprived of freshwater for consumption.

  • Carbon emissions from manufacturing processes. This issue is concentrated on paper production due to its massive use in daily activities and other productions. The industry is known to be extremely volatile for environment, as most processes are being carried out using enormous proportions of fossil fuels. One ton of paper is believed to generate between 1.5 and 1,8 tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to that, the transportation of its resources and other materials required supplements to load carbon stock to the environment.


Durability and Protection Concerns

Susceptibility to Moisture and Damage

It is essential to note that paper packaging is highly susceptible to moisture. Moisture softens paper, and objects can easily penetrate its surface hence causing damage to the packaged products. Cardboard boxes can absorb up to 30% of their weight from water, and they become so soft that they quickly lose strength. Therefore, paper packaging is not suited for products that require a moisture-proof or a water-resistant barrier. The products risk loss and transportation costs wen traveling with them in humid environments or during the rainy season. Therefore, paper packaging is not suited for some of the goods in which their nature needs a lot of care.

Limited Strength for Heavy Products

It is important to note that paper has limited strength, which makes it not good for packing heavy products. Goods that weigh many pounds cannot be packaged with normal paper. Standard corrugated cardboard can carry up to 30-40pounds, while a plastic container of the same size can carry over 100 pounds. This calls for extra care as the demand for more paper increase when packaging such a product or alternative ways when shipping such heavy products. However, packaging for landscape stone that is lightweight can expand to hold and carry goods that are 13.2-gallon containers for carrying up to 40 pounds. In addition, it requires double packaging when selling heavier products at the stores and some of them have an environmental impact.


Cost and Economic Factors

Higher Production Costs

Among the basic economic disadvantages is the fact that paper packaging is costlier to produce than plastic. The process of manufacturing bags and containers involves significantly more energy and resources, such as water and wood pulp. Paper bags can be up to four times costlier to produce than plastic alternatives . Thus, such costs have a significant impact on the cost of products that are marketed in these bags and containers, which can diminish competitiveness in the field. In some industries, the cost of packaging can also be a significant part of the costs of production, which may also weaken the financial performance of these organizations.

Low Recycling Rate

At the same time, only a fraction of paper packaging produced is recycled. In fact, the vast majority of boxes and some bags do not have a practical use in the paper-making industry . Instead, recycling paper is rather ineffective, as in 2020 just 68% of the paper and paperboard produced in the United States were recycled . Due to the contamination of paper and cardboard with food and various substances, recycling these commodities is difficult and expensive. As a result, it creates high waste costs and the high use of virgin materials paid for by companies.

Economic Performance of Smaller Businesses

For small businesses, the costs of production and recycling can be too cumbersome. The necessity for bag designs and printing may also increase the costs of paper packaging. Thus, for smaller enterprises that must control their production and sales of products, such options may not be effective from an economic perspective.

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