According to the Cambridge English dictionary: Eco-friendly products have been designed to do the least possible damage to the environment.

In the context of manufacturing, eco friendly could apply to:

  • Materials
  • Packaging
  • Products
  • Production processes
  • Company initiatives to reduce environmental impact, such as renewable energy usage

Remember that eco friendly does not mean that a product or item is 100% green, it may simply be less harmful to the environment than another option.

An example of eco friendly packaging

Let’s look at Coke’s PlantBottle as an example. This is a plastic drinks bottle made partly from bioPET, a type of polyethylene terephthalate that uses sugarcane residue instead of oil as its raw material. It can be recycled along with oil-based PET, however, if not recycled it would still pollute the environment and degrade very slowly in landfill like its oil-based counterpart.

Therefore we can recognise bioPET as being ‘eco-friendly,’ as it uses plant-based raw materials instead of fossil fuels and can be widely recycled using the current recycling infrastructure, but it is still able to harm the environment because if it is not recycled it will behave in the same way as other plastics.

 

An example of an eco friendly  company

IKEA, Swedish home furnishing giant, plans to become a circular business by 2030.

They have taken measures to reduce their environmental impact such as:

  • Repairing and repacking products that were damaged in transit rather than disposing of them
  • Donating or reselling returned items
  • Only selling LED bulbs
  • Ending single-use plastic use
  • Using solar panels on stores to increase renewable energy usage
  • Opening their own wind farms to provide renewable energy

While IKEA’s somewhat ‘throwaway’ furnishings can’t be described as having no negative impact on the environment, as a company they are taking steps to reduce energy usage, decrease their carbon footprint, and reduce waste (amongst other things); all eco-friendly activities.

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