With the world becoming more and more conscious about climate change and global warming, businesses need to catch up with the increasing demand for more sustainable and eco-friendly products and packaging.
There are many ways to go green for your business, like adopting more sustainable business practices, eco- friendly products and packaging etc. Out of these and a number of other options, opting for sustainable packaging is the most lean and budget friendly for businesses.
The negatives of single use plastics and non recyclable packaging are immense. From toxic emissions that damage the soil to heaps of waste that fill the landfills and tons of hazardous waste that is released in the oceans and other water bodies. The list is endless and keeps getting worse.
Now is the right time to take a step forward and initiate a change in how your products are packaged. So, in this article we will discuss sustainable packaging and how it can be done effectively for a better planet.
In this article, here’s what we’ll cover.
Let’s get started.
Your packaging is said to be sustainable when sourcing and development of the packaging material is eco-friendly and reduces ecological footprint on the planet. So basically, the more healthy your packaging is for the environment, the more points you earn for sustainability.
It often involves the use of cardboard, papers, biodegradable plastics for packaging and minimizing single use plastic. Sustainable packaging aims at decreasing packaging waste’s degradation time and reducing the harmful emission from the plastic wastes.
Sustainable packaging has been contributing to the conservation of marine life by helping reduce the amount of plastics in the oceans. It promotes the concept of a greener and non-toxic future for us and our coming generations.
Sustainable packaging is now the need of the hour. The impact plastic waste has on the environment is massive. A report from EPA says that in 2018, we generated 30,530,000 tons of waste that went into landfills and all of this waste came from containers and packaging. We are producing waste at an alarming rate and moving towards sustainable options is now the only hope.
More than 20 million tons of single-use plastic used for packaging is now adding up to the waste in the oceans, strangling marine life. The snowfall in the Alps had nanoplastic particles and about 43 trillion plastic particles land in Switzerland every year.
Initiating sustainable packaging is going to be beneficial for your brand. Data from the global web index suggests that 42% of the customers say that they look for products with sustainable packaging in their day to day shopping. Customers are even willing to pay more for products with sustainable packaging. And about 50% of the customers say that they have reduced the use of disposable plastics.
Another research suggests that people are even willing to change their habits if given more sustainable options. Data from a study says that sustainable packaging can help brands increase their net sales by 2-4%. And the millennials and genz can be attributed for it, who are now more concerned about the kind of material they use and the impact it has on nature.
Sustainable packaging is now a necessity, and here are some of its benefits that will convince you to do so:
While you might want to pivot your packaging to a sustainable one, it’s tough to get started. You need to have a plan about how you are going to handle your product’s packaging. Here are some points that might help you prepare the right plan.
Choosing the right material for your packaging is the most important step. You cannot choose non waterproof material for a food product. Your material needs to be chosen according to the product you are looking to package.
But here’s the most important question you need to ask before deciding on the material.
Is the material really sustainable?
Biodegradable plastics, often considered to be one of the best sustainable packaging options, is one of the reasons for increasing microplastics in the sea. It requires very specific conditions for degrading.
Plant derived plastics not only put pressure on the agriculture sector but also pose a problem of soil degradation from pesticides and deforestation.
Then what to choose?
Choose the one that is most sustainable in the options available for your product.
For non-food products, recycled paper packaging can be a great option. Corrugated cardboard can be used for packaging bigger lots. Glass can be a good option for products like candles, instant coffee, jam etc and glass can be easily recycled again and again.
Cornstarch based biomaterial has plastic-like qualities and can be used as it’s replacement. Corrugated bubble wraps can provide a similar cushioning to delicate products like plastic bubble wraps.
As you make a change to eco-friendly packaging start with the most basic measures for sustainability instead of the complex processes. You need to first adopt the three R’s, reuse, reduce and recycle.
Cardboards and wooden boxes used for packing a large product or a whole lot can be easily reused for packaging again. You can ask your distributors or retailers to return those boxes for use again. Even plastic boxes and crates can be reused for years for packaging.
Encourage the recycling of as much packaging as you can. Paper and corrugated cardboard packaging can be easily recycled. Glass and wood can be reused as well as recycled again and again.
Before you think about reusing or recycling your packaging material, you must think about reducing the amount of material used for packaging to start with. Ask yourself, are those extra layers of plastic really necessary? If yes, what can be a more sustainable option? If no, cut down those layers in the packaging.
For easy transition to a sustainable packaging plan, you need to have an efficient supply chain, where you can implement measures to ensure that you follow a greener business model.
A robust supply chain can help you forecast your future demands and prepare your packaging material accordingly. It will also help ensure that the wastage of materials is minimum and the recycling of waste is maximized. You will have to make sure that your whole supply chain is putting in efforts and coordinating to adopt measures that are better for the environment.
Make your packaging lightweight using lighter and more eco-friendly options with the help of your supply chain partners. This will help you reduce the cost for packaging, the shipping charges and the storage area issues.
More time the product spends in the chain, more layers will be added to the packaging and more will be the waste generated. Optimizing the movement of products in the chain to minimize this time can be helpful in reducing the waste generated during this process.
An effective packaging management system is a must when pivoting your packaging to a sustainable one. Any change can easily create mismanagement if not implemented properly. And for proper implementation you need a tool that can help you consolidate your packaging management.
When changing the packaging material you need to make sure that the new material compliments your brand values and is suitable for the kind of designs that you want on the labels.
The design will need to be changed according to the material being used but must not lose the brand’s essence. The packaging must be consistent for all products of the brand and must also be compliant with the guidelines.
To take care of all this you need a tool like Artwork flow that can seamlessly handle all your artwork management for your packages. Artwork flow can create effective workflows that help you reach your sustainability goals.
Before you make up your mind about making your packaging greener and start searching for options, here are some tips to remember.
Joy shampoo bar and bar soap uses 100% recycled paper for its packaging and also aims to minimize the amount of material used in the process. The brand is also working to provide mobile showers to the homeless under its right to shower campaign.
Boxed water has come up with a revolutionary idea of replacing plastic bottles. It uses 92% plant based material. They are refillable, biodegrade faster if thrown away and are easier to recycle. The brand has also planted 1,000,000 trees as an act to give back to the planet.
The tea boxes of celestial seasonings are made from 35% post-consumer recycled paperboard. Their mission includes maintaining their commitment to the planet. Their boxes are as thoughtful as their product.
Though changing to more sustainable packaging is hard, adopting it creates a win-win situation for your brand’s image and your packaging costs. There are endless ways in which you can make your packaging greener for the planet but what you choose must be suitable for your business.
You can overcome the challenges of this shift with an efficient supply chain and a robust system that can handle all your packaging management. Use tools like Artwork flow to minimize the friction while you take a step towards a greener and healthier future.