Increased efforts in implementing green initiatives all around the world have been growing at an exponential rate, and there’s no sign of stopping any time soon. Sustainable initiatives have improved and developed over the years. Now it has become ingrained into our culture, affecting consumer spending habits and decisions. Sustainable packaging is on the rise. Now is the time for you to join the movement.
Consumers today are all about sustainability. They are making conscious decisions and are willing to pay a premium fee to get environmentally friendly products. New packaging trends are on the rise, and companies of all sizes need to be aware of in today’s market.
With increasingly visible changes to our environment, it has become more important than ever to understand sustainability and the three pillars identified at the 2005 World Summit on sustainable development to manage and protect our common environment. So what does this mean for your company and your packaging manufacturer and supplier?
Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.The United States Environmental Protection Agency
What is Sustainable Packaging?
One of the most important impressions that consumers will have about your company is based on your packaging. Packaging can be the perfect way to deliver your company’s message to the consumer. A visually appealing design can easily attract attention and make the unboxing experience that much more exciting. But there is so much more than that.
In today’s marketplace, consumers want transparency. Customers want to know exactly where your company is producing its packaging. Is the material eco-friendly? Was the material sourced ethically? Was the process, used to print the packaging, sustainable? The process and materials used for your packaging can easily affect your consumer’s impression, like a good design.
The packaging must also be easily recyclable. Whether recycling at home or at the local depot, the process of recycling must be easy and efficient. The key to sustainable packaging is that it needs to have a low impact on our environment.
Elements of Sustainable Packaging
Kraft paper is 100% eco-friendly, and among one of the most popular packaging materials in the world. Made from all-natural ingredients such as wood pulp from all types of wood, the production of kraft paper is much more sustainable than regular paper, which only uses specific woods.
Bleaching is also not involved, which maintains the strength of the paper and decreases manufacturing costs. Kraft paper is also a lightweight packaging material which helps maintain a low shipping cost.
This material is no stranger to sustainable packaging. With the growing trend of sustainability, large and small brands alike are opting to use molded pulp more often than other packaging options. Created with paper fibers, either virgin or recycled, molded pulp is one of the more eco-friendly packaging options on the market right now. It is very common to find electronics and home appliance companies that use molded pulp inserts. The protective and forming qualities of this material allow for packaging inserts that can come in any shape or size, which is perfect for products that come in any shape or size.
This report by Apple indicates that they’ve increased the use of recycled fibers by 30%, and reduced the amount of plastic in their packaging for the iPhone 7 compared to the packaging for the iPhone 6.
A very large part of the packaging industry is the use of foams. Packaging foams are a material that can be used in different levels of the packaging industry. Primarily used as a duo-purpose protective layer, as well as to organize small products to provide a good presentation, foams were not always the most environmentally friendly.
In recent years, as the subject of sustainable packaging continues to rise, biodegradable and paper “foam” alternatives have been developed to slowly replace this common packaging material. Since the market for sustainability is growing, it is highly beneficial for smaller companies to ride the momentum.
When talking about packaging, it’s hard to ignore plastics. It is an even more controversial subject when talking about sustainable packaging. This commonly used material, according to the British Plastics Federation, makes a positive contribution to all three pillars of sustainability.
Plastics have provided excellent benefits in packaging. It is lightweight, resource and energy-efficient, and offers excellent durability compared to paper options. As a result, using plastic as a packaging material is able to reduce waste, and save energy.
Although plastics may be a viable packaging option, the objective remains the same: to completely eliminate the use of plastics. Governments around the world have taken action to ban or discourage single-use plastics. Over the last decade, too much plastic waste has found its way into the ocean, affecting wildlife and destroying ecosystems.
As of May 2019, the United Nations Environmental Programme has confirmed 100 million tons of plastic waste found in the ocean, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources. When we do use plastics, we need to make sure that it can be reused and recycled efficiently.
The use of eco-friendly inks is a rising trend. Creating these inks no long require heavy metals like lead and mercury. The biggest difference is the reduction or complete removal of volatile organic compounds. These compounds produce gases that are hazardous to both the environment and to human health.
Although manufacturers have implemented energy-saving initiatives, the most impactful breakthrough is the creation of biodegradable inks utilizing organic vegetable oils. As a result, this reduces the impact on the environment and allows reduced energy consumption during the recycling process.
Sourcing and Production
Not only should the materials be environmentally friendly, but we should also consider how it’s sourced, as well as energy efficiency and process throughout production. Our partnership with the National Forest Foundation is an effort to help replenish the number of trees lost due to overconsumption or by natural cause.
Paper is such a fundamental material in packaging. By keeping a relatively low to a moderate consumption rate, and using a replenishable source, we can maintain a valuable source of material used in all industries.
Tree farms are a sustainable solution where trees are privately managed and maintained to provide nearly limitless sustainable wood to produce paper products. Production will need to involve energy-saving solutions to minimize the impact on the environment.
In order for your packaging to be sustainable, you also need to consider the design. Consider using minimal materials for the structure. Optimize your packaging with a specialist to reduce the weight while maintaining structural integrity to endure any rough handling during the shipment process. Choose your materials wisely to maintain the focus on reducing your environmental footprint.
It really depends on each municipality. Certain types of laminations used, for example, may be difficult to recycle, depending on that area’s recycling system…so it’s good to understand the regulations of your area in advance.Russel Velarga, Structural Solutions Specialist at PakFactory
What are the consumers thinking?
The sustainability mindset is not only affecting governments and businesses all around the world, but consumers are also contributing greatly to this massive trend. Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact that the industries have on the environment. Businesses may not be asked to change, but the demand for environmentally friendly products and sustainable business practices is growing at an exponential rate, and businesses cannot afford to ignore these insights.
Consumers are no longer brand-oriented. Instead, customers now gravitate towards smaller brands and businesses that can satisfy their needs for environmentally friendly products. Smaller brands have an easier time to stand out in today’s market.
When we compare regular products and those made with sustainable practices and eco-friendly materials, the cost is usually the most obvious within the comparison. However, as consumers slowly adapt the Healthy for me, Healthy for the World trend, businesses discover that price is not an issue.
Even with inflation, consumers are willing to make good purchasing decisions by buying environmentally friendly products and supporting eco-friendly brands. In fact, a study done by Nielsen says 49% of overall consumers are willing to pay a premium for high-quality products with visible and existing safety standards. This includes organics, free of antibiotics, hormone-free, and GMO-free.
Sustainability has become an enormous issue over the last decade. Businesses all over the world slowly work towards becoming more environmentally friendly. Along with consumer influence, it has become the responsibility for businesses to pursue sustainable business practices, becoming thought leaders on this topic and to contribute to an environmental cause.