Is plastic packaging bad for the environment? Facts and things to think about

A person watches a girl empty out a bucket of vegetable scraps, demonstrating the difference between compostable and biodegradable

It’s easy to think that all plastic is bad for the environment, but how bad is plastic packaging really? It’s worth understanding how eco sound plastic packaging is different to non-recycled, non-recyclable packaging. Here we’ll present both the benefits of plastic packaging and the drawbacks, so you can feel well informed about this timely topic.

Plastic packaging benefits

There are positives to using plastic in packaging. Some plastic packaging benefits include:

  • Waste prevention. It can help avoid spillages and keep products together.
  • Increased freshness. It can ensure that the products you receive and use are clean, hygienic, and ready to use.
  • Damage protection. It can help keep delicate products safe in transit.
  • Contamination prevention. It can help protect products from damage or contamination from gases/moisture/light/insects/microorganisms/humidity/etc.
  • Increased preservation. It can preserve products for a longer time.

Plastic itself also has positives. Some of the benefits of plastic (packaging or otherwise) include:

  • It’s shatter-resistant. Unlike glass, plastic doesn’t break when dropped.
  • It’s hygienic. Plastic helps stop contamination by being sealed – a particular benefit for medical products like sterile syringes.
  • It’s secure. Plastic can have safety mechanisms, like childproof locks.
  • It’s lightweight and durable. As it’s lighter and thinner than certain alternatives, plastic can take up less space in trucks/planes, which can mean lower emissions.
  • Certain plastics are recyclable. Recyclable types of plastic can be used to make new products.

Plastic packaging drawbacks

There are also negatives to using plastic, but just how bad is plastic packaging? If packaging is made from plastics that aren’t easily and readily recycled, then it will end up in landfill or incineration. The majority of plastics in our packaging are made of polyethylene or polypropylene. These plastics can be recycled in many countries in Europe. It is important to improve the collection schemes for plastics and encourage consumers to recycle used packaging.

Which plastic packaging is best?

Undoubtedly the best kind is eco sound plastic packaging, which means it’s been made from renewable or recycled materials and is itself recyclable. Recyclable plastic bottles, for example, can be turned into all sorts of things, like carpets, tiles, furniture, pipes, detergent bottles, and motor oil.

Plenty and eco plastic packaging

At Plenty, our packaging is already technically recyclable, and we’re passionate about increasing the use of recycled materials in our packaging, including recycled plastic packaging. The plastic packaging for our consumer tissue is already 33% post-consumer recycled plastics. By 2026, we’re aiming for 100% recyclability and a rate of 85% renewable or recycled materials.

Eco plastic packaging versus paper packaging

Although we might automatically assume paper is preferable to plastic, paper packaging is not always necessarily better. The impact of paper packaging on the carbon footprint needs to be carefully evaluated case by case, before concluding what is preferable. We see that both paper and plastic packaging has a place for our products

At Plenty we are carefully evaluating other types of flexible paper packaging to be sure that they would genuinely help to lighten our carbon footprint, without compromising the safety and sanitation of our products, if they replaced the plastic in our packaging.

Plastic packaging can ensure that products are hygienic, safe, easy to use, and arrive with minimal wastage. However, switching to paper can be a more sustainable packaging solution in some cases.

Composting your packaging: the benefits

Plastic packaging is becoming increasingly easier to recycle and that’s great. As well as recycling your packaging, why not consider composting it? Composting is a great way to keep waste in your household while turning it into something you yourself can use! 

As a general rule, cardboard and paper packaging which doesn’t have a plastic film or heavy printing on it can be composted at home. It’s important to emphasise that you need to properly check which kind of packaging is compostable yourself. Trying to compost non-compostable, inorganic materials can damage your compost heap. If you send your waste off to be industrially composted, it can also damage this process. So, check first! 

Bit of a composting newbie? That’s nothing to worry about. Just read our guide on the basics of composting and check out our article ‘What can you put in the compost bin?’ to find out what you can compost at home. Alternatively, check what is suitable for industrial composting with your local council.


We’ve got exciting news! Plenty Original kitchen roll sheets are now compostable! That means when you’re done wiping up one of life’s little messes, you can throw your sheet on the compost heap and give back to your garden. That’s certified compostable sheets* for compostable messes!

Want to know more about Plenty’s compostable kitchen roll sheets? Check out the answers to your frequently asked questions.

Now you know more about recycled plastic packaging, you can make product choices based on the most sustainable options available, without sacrificing on safety and hygiene.

*Plenty kitchen towels are certified as home and industrially compostable according to NF T 50-800 and EN14995. 

Did you find this article helpful?Thanks for your feedback!