How to Weed Out the GreenWashers

Monday, October 26, 2015

As society becomes more aware of its impact on the environment, it is only natural to expect corporations to embrace the values of sustainability and environmental stewardship. Many new products are marketed as simple ways to satisfy the need to be green. How, as concerned businesses, can we be sure products are better for the environment, remain cost-effective, and actually work?

No one likes using EPS cooler boxes (Styrofoam® is a common misnomer for EPS). They are bulky, cost too much to ship, easy to break, a fire hazard, and bad for the environment. Though marketed as recyclable, it is simply too expensive to support a recycling program and the EPS inevitably ends up in the garbage. But how much better is that new green solution?

Modern landfills are designed as low-oxygen environments so that the waste cannot decay. This environment helps to prevent decomposition which produces harmful greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide, as well as leachate, which pollutes ground water and soil. Much of the organic material in an ancient Roman landfill that was twenty centuries old had not fully decomposed. 50% of all landfill made today is paper that will be mummified for future archeologists.

Denim (and Jute, Bamboo Rayon, Mushrooms, Cornstarch, etc)

Denim insulation is a recycled product made from cotton textile fibers. Cotton is the world‘s most pesticide and chemical intensive crop so it is admirable to recycle it for additional use. Unfortunately, manufacturers utilizing denim (or jute, etc.) as an insulator tell you to toss their product in the trash after its use, guilt-free, because of cotton’s biodegradability. FTC prosecutes such claims as unqualified and misleading as landfills are meant to prevent degradation!

Clearly denim is much better than EPS as a raw material. It can work for thermal shipments, but at four times the weight! This means more diesel and jet fuel burned for the same parcel. To support the green narrative, biodegradeable plastic must not be an oxygen barrier and does little to control convection. You still need a box, tape, and void fill.

Rockwool

Rockwool insulation is a product made from actual rocks and minerals in a process similar to how cotton candy is spun. It is bio-inert.

Just as with denim, rockwool is a better raw material than EPS. But it is also at least four times the weight of EPS! The panels are not flexible, suffer from material fatigue and require the use of a box, tape, and void fill.

Polyester Fiber (PET)

Sourced almost entirely from recycled drink bottles, PET fiber insulation is resilient and fully curb side recyclable. It can be provided compressed and custom printed in whatever size you need, always taking up less room in delivery trucks and your valuable storage space.

Recycling is the solution to the green challenges facing shippers today. Utilizing post-consumer recycled PET to manufacture insulation and making it easy to recycle into something else prevents waste, degradable or not, from filling our landfills.

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