What Is Sustainable Packaging? Why Packaging Sustainability Is Important.
As sustainable packaging and eco-friendliness are becoming a key concern for people and governments all over the world, companies are starting to shift towards more sustainable packaging from plastic materials and plastic packaging.
This means reducing the carbon footprint by cutting back on the waste they produce with various packaging materials and sourcing products in a way that does not negatively affect the environment when manufacturing packing material.
Reusable packaging and recyclable packaging with eco friendly packaging is the packaging materials of the future.
As more and more people value the need to avoid waste and become aware of their consumption habits, they are preferring products that are more environment-friendly and sustainable.
One of the things that customers nowadays actively look for is sustainable packaging. Since they want to cut back on the amount of waste they produce, they are leaning more towards sustainable packages that are good for the environment.
Businesses can take note of the change in customer preferences and shift their focus towards becoming more eco-friendly.
They can start this by taking the steps to create a sustainable packaging plan for their products.
Plastic packaging is the packaging material of the past.
In the fashion industry, there are an estimated 150 billion plastic packaging bags used every year, and most of these end up in the landfill.
In a recent poll, 86% of Italian adults said they were concerned about clothing packaging waste, and 9 out of 10 said they would prefer to receive clothing deliveries in compostable bags.
France already set a target to decrease single use plastic packaging by 20 percent by 2025, of which at least half must come from the reuse of packing.
Plastic packaging, if recycled, are actually downcycled into lower-quality plastics before they’re no longer useful and get sent to landfill or incineration.
Compostable Packaging Material
Compostable packaging demands no such process or resources. The packing material is organic with a built-in end-of-life and will degrade in regular compost bins. Like all compost, it will transform into a naturally nutrient-rich soil, with net benefits for our planet.
What is Sustainable Packaging?
Sustainable packaging is new packaging that is environmentally friendly and that does not negatively affect the environment.
This means that the packing and materials used for packing are sourced from sources that do not contribute to higher carbon emissions. Also, the packages are disposable easily and do not affect the environment.
Sustainable packaging is earth-friendly and doesn’t contribute to the further depletion of natural resources.
You have to understand that there is more carbon-di-oxide creation in manufacturing and sourcing certain products. The higher carbon-di-oxide emission cannot be offset by the natural environment and this leads to global warming and ultimately climate change.
So, in order to be sustainable, you have to use products/materials sourced from sources with fewer carbon emissions.
There is also the need to not add waste to the environment when you’re disposing of packages. Eco-friendly packages should be sustainable and not lead to accumulative waste in a landfill. Usually, environmentally friendly packaging is recyclable, reusable, and degradable.
Since eco-friendly packing can be a bit costly, they increase your packing or shipping costs. This is a small price to bear for committing to sustainability.
Usually, customers recognize your push towards being more sustainable and are happy to pay extra for eco-friendly solutions.
Why is Sustainable Packaging Important?
Sustainable packaging is genuinely important as customers are seeking more eco-friendly solutions in their daily lives. There is a move towards living sustainable lifestyles and sustainable packaging appeals a lot to buyers.
As a seller, you can be genuinely interested in reducing your carbon footprint and deliver sustainable solutions for your customers. If yes, you should go ahead with a good sustainable packaging plan that can be seamlessly integrated into your operations to serve your customers.
Remember, by opting for sustainable alternatives, you’re signaling to your customers that you care about the environment and issues like global warming and climate change.
While there are sellers who definitely try to ride the new shift in customer preferences to market their products as ‘eco-friendly’ to appeal to environment-conscious buyers, you should try to stay clear of this tactic if you aren’t genuinely interested in reducing your carbon footprint.
Your buyer’s trust in you shouldn’t be broken for simply appealing to more customers. When you’re mentioning terms like ‘natural’, ‘non-toxic’, ‘biodegradable’, and ‘BPA-free’, make sure that you actually care for the environment and are working on your environmental goals.
Why Do We Need Sustainable Packaging?
89% of Australian consumers are concerned about packaging waste 78% say compostable packaging is the best solution to plastic waste 79% say the federal government should encourage compostable packaging over recycling In 2018, it was estimated that just 23% of total PE films were sent for recycling.
The vast majority of food packaging is destined to become garbage!
Incentivizing For The Packaging Industry
Governments worldwide are taking steps to encourage the use of green packaging.
Countries such as Ireland, Italy and Japan are incentivizing businesses with tax exemptions for compostable packaging . In the UK, packaging containing less than 30% recycled materials will be subject to higher taxation.
Also in the UK , EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) schemes will hold manufacturers and retailers accountable for the end-of-life of their packaging, together with taxes on plastics that are hard-to-recycle, and exemptions for the use of sustainable packaging materials.
Sustainable Packaging Design Service
Packaging companies now offer sustainable packaging design in order to create your packing materials to boast about your company’s involvement in environmental friendliness.
They will design the message with your logo and text to let customers know that you care about the environmental impacts of your packaging.
Consumer demands are rising in regards to zero waste packaging products, environmental impact and eco friendly materials.
Eco-friendly packaging includes recyclable materials, such as PET or HDPE plastic, cardboard and paper wrappings. These materials, once sorted correctly for recycling, can be shredded, pulped, or melted down and remolded to begin anew as raw material for new packaging or other uses.
But while cardboard will retain the quality of its properties, plastics degrade each time their polymer chains are broken down (or melted) and can only be recycled so many times before they must be sent to landfill or incinerated.
The term “sustainability” was only really adopted by the packaging industry as late as 2006.
The sustainability of a packing materials is defined by the impact that said material has on the natural environment when compared to alternative materials. This can be complicated as various packing materials claim to be sustainable but are not sustainable when compared to other types of packing materials currently available.
Life Cycle Analysis
A Life Cycle Analysis assesses (life cycle assessment) the environmental impacts associated with every stage of a product’s life – from the extraction and manufacturing of the raw material, to distribution, to company and end consumer use, and disposal (or recycling or composting).
A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA will always put forth an estimate for the greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. the carbon footprint) of a product across its entire lifecycle.
Food Packaging Materials
There is also substantial work under way to develop more food-safe-grade plastic films incorporating recycled content for food packaging. This development will increase the use of recycled materials in the large quantities of flexible packaging that are used today for food.
If you are looking to purchase the most sustainable packaging materials currently available on the market today, it is best to compare the flexible packaging materials from packaging manufacturers, packaging distributors, online retailers, or other places where flexible packaging materials are sold.
Environmentally sound packaging is available for food packaging sustainability. Nowadays, all you have to do is just look for companies for an environmentally friendly packaging solution.
Recycled Packaging Materials
Recycled packaging is a great way to extend the life of previously used materials.
When deciding on boxes, mailers, or containers, consider using packaging that’s made out of recycled packaging materials. Paperboard cardboard is one of the most common examples of recycled packaging.
Recycled plastic cannot be used for packaging with food-contact, and often needs to be mixed with virgin plastics to be usable.
Eco Packaging for Brands
A brand that aligns itself for the good of the environment is something that the world wants to hear about. It’s a moral that can make your brand stand out and be seen over your competition.
Work your sustainability into your marketing campaigns and make sure that people know that you’re out there making a difference!
Eco friendly packaging is more and more important to buyers worldwide. Brands can make it clear to buyers that they are using eco packaging by putting a note on the packing box.
Eco Packaging for Clothing Companies
Mailing clothing using smaller mailer bags are a unique form of clothing packaging and let the brand leverage the natural paper texture while also keeping material usage at an absolute minimum without wasting shipping materials.
Can Sustainable Packaging Help Reduce Food Waste?
Every year, 103 million tons of food is thrown away in the United States. That’s 30 to 40% of the nation’s total food supply. So how do brands replace their regular food packaging with sustainable ones?
Sustainable Food Packaging
Compostable packaging is an increasingly popular form of sustainable packaging.
It protects food products similarly to regular packaging, displaying the properties and resilience of traditional materials, however it breaks down fully in the ground into beneficial organic compost.
For some products, it’s an easy switch, but for others… well, not so much, but due to more and more incentives, even for these type of products, it will be worth the switch.
Sustainable Packaging Options
As a B2B seller, you have a few sustainable packaging options available. You have to weigh the pros and cons of switching to sustainable packaging and should always proceed with caution in the initial stages.
You do not want to risk your customer orders as you’re moving to a new sustainable packaging solution. We suggest you take your time and slowly make the transition to sustainable packaging.
So let’s dive into the world of green packaging, and see it’s benefits for your brand.
Going plastic-free will be a huge step forward in the direction of environmental friendliness as a seller.
Plastics that find their way into landfills can take up to 500 years to decompose. They are harmful to the environment and many ecosystems.
Bioplastics are plastic-like materials made from plant-based materials. Unlike plastics, bioplastics are compostable and degradable and leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Bioplastics are usually made from glucose, protein, or starch that are derived from plants. Other materials used to make bioplastics include corn, beans, sugarcane, seaweed, and algae.
Bioplastics can decompose in three to six months. They don’t cause much harm to the environment since they are made from non-toxic materials.
Meanwhile, bioplastics are more expensive than regular plastic and hence increase the cost of packaging or shipping. If customers are happy with your products and love your move to sustainable packaging solutions, they will not mind paying a little extra for sustainability.
While paper cannot replace all kinds of packaging, it is a good start towards sustainable packaging.
Try to use paper packaging for small products initially. You can use cardboard boxes for items you know are safe to ship in cardboard boxes.
You should identify product wrappings that are in plastic that do not require plastic wrapping. Good examples of this are bars of soap, books, and notebooks.
Paper can be easily replaced and you can make every effort to add it to your sustainable packaging plan.
Compostable packaging is a great option to add as a seller. These packages are often plant-based and highly degradable.
This means that they do not leave any harmful material pile-up in landfills. The packaging also aids in the regeneration of fertile soil.
A lot of companies that sell health supplements are switching to compostable packaging that is not only attractive but also environmentally friendly.
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
Biodegradable packing peanuts can replace styrofoam packing peanuts to provide a more eco-friendly option.
These biodegradable peanuts are easily degradable and most of them can actually be dissolved in water.
They are made from starch that comes from potatoes, corn, and other plants. Though biodegradable packing peanuts are a bit more expensive, they are non-toxic and more sustainable.
Plant Based Packaging
Plant-based options are rapidly making inroads into the world of product packaging. As its name suggests, these materials are made out of biological sources — everything from mushrooms and seaweed to corn and food waste.
The right plant-based packaging options will depend on the products that you need to package or ship.
If you’re selling food, for example, then you should ensure that the material can protect your product without affecting its flavor (bioplastics are a good solution for this).
Cork is made from the bark of the Cork Oak Tree. This material is sturdy and looks good for packaging.
Since the bark of the tree grows back and can be harvested again, the activity of getting more bark does not harm the tree.
Containers made of cork are durable and can absorb some shock. Hence, they are good for shipping items that need protection over sea and air.
While being biodegradable and sustainable, cork is resistant to fire and can eliminate moisture and odor. This is why you see cork used to plug bottles of champagne and wine.
While corrugated packaging can be engineered to provide exceptional strength and performance, it has limitations in certain applications.
Corrugated cardboard packaging is recyclable, renewable and sustainable if well managed but it is not suitable for use in preserving food products, or for wet or oily products.
Paperboard is created using used paper pulp; it’s also lightweight and can easily be cut and formed, making it ideal for shipping boxes.
Bio Based Plastics
Bio based plastics also seem like a useful solution to the problems surrounding reliance on carbon based materials.
However, from a sustainability point of view, there are still issues that could cause longer term environmental impacts.
Bio-based plastics or bioplastics typically use food crops such as corn or sugarcane in their production.
Initially this may seem very attractive, but some reports suggest that a significant upturn in demand for bioplastics (and biofuel) could potentially divert foods from the human food chain causing shortages and / or massive price increases.
Bio based plastics place additional strain on already stretched agriculture, and could in future lead to increased deforestation and pesticide use.
Brands Moving Towards Sustainable Packaging
Consumer behaviour and consumer trends are arguably one of the reasons many more brands are using environmentally friendly packaging. Sustainable packaging goals are hard to hit, but not impossible.
There are a few brands that are actively moving to sustainable solutions for packaging and you can win over your customers by committing to doing the same.
Brands are moving towards removing the ecological footprint, not only to reduce environmental impact but to increase brand loyalty.
Major brands are moving towards zero waste and reducing the ecological footprint. The companies I am going to mention are Ikea nad Dell.
For example, Dell has replaced Styrofoam with a plant-based packaging made out of mushrooms and other plants.
You can start small and replace individual parts of your packaging with sustainable packaging to impress your customers and stand by your commitment to eco-friendly living.
Brands may need packaging innovations in order to switch to sustainable packaging.
Resources for Eco Friendly Packaging Materials
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a great resource. Here, you can see the certifications of certain brands and products.
It’s also a great way to further your knowledge of recyclable packaging in general. (SPC) is the leading voice on sustainable packaging with a membership that encompasses the entire supply chain.
The SPC offers criterias for packaging to be sustainable. These are some of the sustainable packaging criterias:
- Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
- Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
- Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
Companies can use packaging converters to help the transition from one type of plant based packaging to another.
Traditionally, these converters have played a major role of the compliant supplier to their larger and more powerful brand-owning customers.
Sustainable Packaging Companies
There are more and more sustainable packaging companies in the USA. Finding environmentally friendly packing for minimizing waste is getting easier every day.
Package Sustainability and Environmental Impact
Use as little material as possible and ship as little excess air as possible, while still achieving the above two goals.
If you choose non-renewable (such as plastic) based packing, use as much recycled material as possible and – in particular – as much post-consumer waste as possible.
If you choose renewable packing materials that can be made with recycled material (such as traditional corrugated or paper), use as much recycled material as possible.
There are plenty of ways to go green with your packing materials, and the right approach depends on your business. Whether you choose to use eco-friendly materials, switch up your vendors, or optimize your supply chain processes, you need to ensure that your initiatives stick.
The best way to do that is to do things one step at a time, measure the results, then expand from there.
Weigh the pros and cons of your decision and choose the right sustainable packaging option for your needs.