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Packaging Guide

The below packaging guide was developed as a resource for Good Market approved enterprises participating in the weekly marketplace events and supplying the Good Market shops in Sri Lanka. 

 

The problem packaging category includes packaging that cannot be safely reused, properly composted, or easily recycled. Single-use plastic lunch sheets, shopping bags, straws, cutlery, and gloves, oxo-biodegradable plastic, plastic #3, and plastic #6 are not permitted at the Good Market events or shops in Sri Lanka. See the Plastics Guide for more details.

 

Packaging options may vary in different regions. Good Market approved enterprises are expected to avoid problem packaging and minimize waste by transitioning to reusable, compostable, and recyclable alternatives. Have recommendations? Get in touch.

Contents

Reusable

Packaging that is collected for reusable is considered the most environmentally responsible option.

Collected & Reused: glass, food grade stainless steel, ceramics with lead-free glaze, terracotta, wood, bamboo, basketry

+ No waste

Recommended

Compostable

Compostable refers to materials that fully decompose under normal conditions within 1 year with no toxic residue.  Compostable packaging materials are listed below from better to worse. 

Edible: bread bowl, waffle cone or bowl, etc.

+ No waste

Recommended

Natural: banana leaf, lotus leaf, areca leaf, coconut shell, corn husk, etc.

+ Local. Minimal energy to produce and transport

+ Can be fully composted

Recommended

Paper & Cardboard: made from recycled material

+ Increases demand for recycling, minimizes deforestation

+ Can be fully composted

Requires energy to produce and transport

Recommended

Paper & Cardboard: chlorine-free, unbleached

+ No dioxin, reduced pollution

+ Can be fully composted

Can contribute to deforestation

Requires energy to produce and transport

Recommended

Paper & Cardboard: white

+ Can be fully composted

Chlorine bleaches contribute to water pollution and production of dioxin, a persistent organic pollutant and powerful carcinogen that bioaccumulates in animals
Can contribute to deforestation
​Requires energy to produce and transport

Recommended

Bioplastics: compostable plastics made from plants

+ Can be fully composted

Production of raw material requires land that could be used for food or conservation
May not be compostable at home, may require industrial compost facilities
​Requires energy to produce and transport

Recommended

Newspaper 

+ Material is being reused

In some countries newspaper ink contains lead and other toxins. Can contaminate compost

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Recyclable

Recyclable means that there is a system of collecting the packaging and returning it to a recycling facility that can manage it. Recyclable packaging materials are listed below from better to worse.

Glass (if collected, washed and reused, comes under Reusable)

+ Nonreactive. No leaching
+ Can be sterilized for reuse
+ Easy to recycle, often contains recycled content

Heavy, more energy for transport
​Requires significant energy to manufacture from raw materials

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Metal: aluminium, steel, tin-plated steel

+ Easy to recycle, often contains recycled content

Requires significant energy to extract and manufacture from raw material

Mining for raw material causes significant environmental damage

May be lined with bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disruptor that is linked to reproductive health issues

Aluminum leaching is concern for people with renal impairment

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Plastic: made from recycled material

+ Reduces material use

+ Increases demand for recycled plastic

Can contribute to environmental pollution if not recycled

Chemical leaching may impact health

Requires energy to produce and transport

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

+ Less leaching than other plastics, easier to reuse

+ Accepted by most recyclers

​Can contribute to environmental pollution if not recycled
Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage
Requires energy to produce and transport
Concerns about chemical leaching

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)

+ Less leaching than other plastics, easier to reuse, resistant to heat

Can’t be recycled at all facilities

Can contribute to environmental pollution if not recycled

Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage

Requires energy to produce and transport

Concerns about chemical leaching

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

+ Less leaching than other plastics, easier to reuse
+ ​Accepted by most recyclers (except plastic bags and plastic film)

Plastic bags and film cannot be easily recycled, contributes to environmental pollution, harms marine life.
​Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage
​Requires energy to produce and transport
​​Concerns about chemical leaching

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

+ Accepted by most recyclers

Intended for one-time use, should not be reused, refilled or heated. Heat and detergents can cause antimony and other toxic chemicals to leach
​Can contribute to environmental pollution if not recycled
​Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage
​​Requires energy to produce and transport

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Composites: layers of plastic, paper, and foil

+ Lightweight, less energy for transport

Difficult to recycle

Contributes to environmental pollution

Concerns about chemical leaching

Not permitted for ready-to-eat food at Good Market events

Problem Packaging

Problem packaging cannot be safely reused, properly composted, or easily recycled. It should not be used by Good Market approved enterprises.

Single Use: plastic lunch sheets, shopping bags, straws, cutlery, gloves

Unnecessary. Can be avoided or replaced by reusable or compostable alternatives
Difficult to recycle
Contributes to environmental pollution, harms marine life
Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage 
Requires energy to produce and transport
​Chemical leaching may impact health

Not permitted

Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic: made from petroleum, contains additives to speed up degradation under certain conditions

Breaks down into microplastics, leaves behind toxic residue, and doesn’t degrade under all conditions
Introduces variability into recycling process and affects quality
Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage 
Requires energy to produce and transport
​Chemical leaching may impact health

Not permitted

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Contains phthalates, a hormone disruptor linked to reproductive health issues
Dioxin released during manufacturing process. Dioxin is a persistent organic pollutant and a powerful carcinogen that bio-accumulates in animals
​​ Difficult to recycle.
​Contributes to environmental pollution
Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage 
Requires energy to produce and transport

Not permitted

Plastic #6: ​Polystyrene (PS) also known as regifoam or styrofoam

Contains styrene, a known neurotoxin and carcinogen.
Difficult to recycle. Estimated to take at least 500 years to degrade
​Contributes to environmental pollution
Made from non-renewable petroleum. Extraction, processing, transport can cause significant environment damage 
Requires energy to produce and transport

Not permitted