Paper was better!
The traditional shotgun cartridge comprised a cartridge case made out of a paper tube with a paper base wad and a brass or steel head together with explosive powder, a fiber wad and lead shot. The end of the paper tube was closed by either forming a fluted crimp or inserting a cardboard disc, which was held in place by a rolled turnover.
These components were all degradable because they were either made from cardboard or paper or were made of organic materials and steel, which corrodes. The invention of plastics and the accompanying technology enabling accurate extrusion of plastic tube revolutionized the shotgun cartridge component industry. The paper tube was replaced by a plastic tube, and although new materials were cheaper and allowed the shotgun cartridge more consistency in ballistic performance than the original paper based product, it is not better for the environment.
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