Three sustainable materials used in plastic packaging

May 23, 2022

The packaging industry is escalating use of sustainable packaging materials because consumers are beginning to take the recyclability and/or sustainability of packaging into account as they choose between products. This article takes a look at the sustainable materials that are most commonly used in plastic packaging and why using them is important.

An increasing number of companies are aiming to gear their production processes towards more sustainable choices. Shrinking the impact they have on the environment has become the bedrock of a range of industries and this is largely thanks to consumer demand. In fact, data shows that 9 out of 10 consumers view sustainability as an important aspect of the decision-making process when they make a purchase. With this in mind, we can become more sustainable by using sustainable materials

Many companies have already stepped up to the challenge and, at SP Group, we want to share how you can use materials of this kind to help your business evolve towards a more sustainable model. 


Why use sustainable materials in packaging?

One of the main reasons for using sustainable materials is to satisfy an increasing demand among consumers: minimising the impact that the products they purchase have on the environment.

The fact is that packaging can play a very important role in diminishing the impact that businesses have on the environment. Sector studies state that packaging represents 39.6% of the plastic we use and most of this plastic is found in single-use containers. This has a huge impact on the environment, but it is possible to mitigate some of the impact by using sustainable materials.

All of the above underpins decisions taken by the European Commission and the Government of Spain to enact new laws such as the law on waste that came into force in our country this week. The aim is to curb utilisation of single-use plastic by establishing new taxes and prohibitions on the production of certain products such as plastic cutlery, plates and drinking straws. The objective is to decrease the waste we produce: a 13% decrease on 2010 figures by 2025 and a 15% decrease by 2030.

It is worth highlighting that we can use sustainable materials to manufacture recycled and recyclable packaging that meets producer and consumer expectations. Committing to a more circular economy means committing to a system in which everyone is a winner.

The sustainable materials we use in plastic packaging

By taking a look at some examples, we can get a good understanding of the impact that sustainable materials can have. On the whole, the materials addressed in this article are very flexible and can adapt to the needs of many different industries. They are a great option for any company seeking to foment a more circular economy that favours recycling and re-using materials.



PP HB ECO is a sustainable material made of a polypropylene-based complex with high-barrier properties. It can be used to replace non-recyclable structures with aluminium films, multi-material structures and metallic coverings. This makes packaging easier to recycle, which improves packaging sustainability

Some of the key qualities of this material include incorporation of recyclable high-barrier materials that can withstand heat treatment, including retort processes. Furthermore, it is possible to print on the material using rotogravure and digital printing techniques. 

It is also perfect for use in the human and animal food industries. Since it can be used in conjunction with PE zipper closures or caps, such as those used for baby food, it is both practical and easy to use. 


PE HB ECO was developed further to research into the creation of a new polyethylene-based high-barrier recyclable structure. Packaging manufactured with this material can also be made barrier-free, providing a mono-material configuration structure. In addition, packaging that employs this sustainable material can withstand heat treatment such as pasteurisation, hot filling and microwaves.

It is also an incredibly transparent material, meaning that excellent product presentation is one of its main qualities. 

3. rPET

According to a study managed by CIDEC, the Spanish centre for innovation and development of a circular economy, rPET is the best solution for ensuring that packaging goes full circle. This sustainable material is made using single-layer thermoforming films from post-consumption recycled materials. Some of its qualities include transparency, an oxygen and water-vapour barrier and the fact that it is food safe.

In addition, it can withstand heat and is flexible and tough. All these qualities make it a perfect candidate for use in product presentation trays

Get in touch if you would you like to find out more about sustainable materials; we will answer all your questions and let you know which solution best suits your needs.

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At SP Group we optimise our production processes to provide the most efficient service to large industry. Many multinational companies already trust our ability to meet their flexible packaging needs on a daily basis.
If you would like to know how your company can benefit from our services, send us your details and one of our sales advisors will contact you. Or, if you prefer, consult the contact details of your area representative.