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Is Recyclable Packaging More Expensive?


Recyclable Packaging

In 2019 Cakes with Faces switched to recyclable packaging for sending out online orders.

As a bit of an eco-warrier at heart, this is something I care about – I really didn’t want to contribute to bringing more single-use plastic into the world. I think about these things a lot and try to recycle everything I possibly can. We’ve even started going to a refill shop, and it feels great to be re-using that plastic washing-up liquid bottle for the fourth time.

Is Recyclable Packaging More Expensive?

However, when I first looked into options for recyclable mailing bags, I was pretty surprised at how much more expensive they are. No wonder so many companies use plastic bags – they’re so much cheaper than eco-friendly options, by a long way.

I put together this quick graph to show the price difference. It’s based on my own research, shopping around, trying to find the most cost-effective options to compare them for my own reference – so I haven’t chosen the most expensive paper mailers to exaggerate the chart for impact.

The graph shows the price (each) for eco-friendly mailing bags versus plastic.

The option I chose was cardboard boxes (purple on the graph) – which also offer better protection to keep items safe in the post (and possibly be more exciting to open?!). They’re also easy to recycle or re-use, and no one would mistake them for plastic and thrown them in the bin. I even got stickers printed as a reminder to recycle them.

But even though cardboard boxes are the most cost-effective of the eco-friendly options, it’s still FOUR TIMES more expensive than plastic mailing bags, at 24p each versus just 6 pence for plastic.

Eco-friendly packaging is four times more expensive than plastic.

You can see why companies that prioritise profit margins would be reluctant to switch to more eco-friendly options. Boxes also weigh more than plastic, which can make the postage more pricey.

However, speaking for myself, I have no regrets! It feels like this is the right thing to do, which is much more important. There’s always more you can do – but every little helps.

Quick Note on Filler Packaging

Having said all this, it might seem hypocritical if your order arrives wrapped in bubblewrap. So just wanted to mention that all filler packaging in your orders is re-used from deliveries I’ve received. This includes bubble wrap, polystyrene and packing paper. I don’t buy air pockets! Getting the most use from materials before they’re disposed of or reprocessed is the best form of recycling.

I’m also still using up my stock of plastic mailing bags from when I used to buy them. For some orders, it works out best to send them in a bag, and it’d be more of a waste not to use them. But I won’t be buying any more!

Recyclable packaging