Download the master guide on how to minimize the environmental impact of packaging

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of sustainability when it comes to product packaging. 

Protecting nature is a big responsibility, and there are many steps that businesses can take to reduce their footprint. 

Using certified packaging solutions is an effective and straightforward way to ensure your business is implementing sustainable practices.

Why Sustainable Certifications Matter

Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious and expect brands they purchase from to take clear and concrete actions to reduce their environmental impact. 

Buyers are much more focused on reducing plastic pollution and packaging waste, heavily influencing purchasing decisions and budgets. 

Seeking out certified products and packaging guarantees both consumers and businesses that materials have been responsibly sourced to ensure a reduced carbon footprint. 

example of sustainable packaging
Source: PakFactory

Sustainable certifications not only ensure a minimal environmental impact but also allow businesses to generate more credibility and sales. 

With a large range of certified packaging materials and printing methods for packaging available, it can be difficult for businesses to choose the right certifications for their products and customers. 

The FSC® Certification 

Using FSC-certified packaging and FSC-certified paper is a huge step for those working towards sustainability, and it has a significant impact on the planet. 

The Forest Stewardship Council is a nonprofit organization that creates and upholds responsible forest management principles. 

With many different countries part of the council, the goal is to guarantee responsibly produced wood and paper materials for consumers. 

Forest management encompasses: 

  • Water quality
  • Forest cover
  • Protecting old forest lands
  • Preventing hazardous chemicals from being used. 
  • Wildlife and plants
Types of FSC labels
Source: Eco Home
  1. FSC 100% Label: Materials are made from 100% virgin materials and are from FSC-certified forests
  2. FSC Mix: The materials contain a mixture of FSC virgin fiber and/or recycled material. The recycling label denotes the amount of pre and post-consumer recycled fiber used. 
  3. FSC Recycled Label: Materials are constructed from 100% recycled fiber. Similar to the mix label, the recycling label will denote the amount of pre and post-consumer recycled fiber being used.

More key things to note:

  • Trees are only cut down at the rate they can be reproduced to maintain a CO2-neutral forest.
  • FSC® are partially protected through preservation in areas where endangered animals and plants are present. 
  • All individuals that work in FSC® forests are provided with training, safety equipment, fair salaries and the option to join or create trade unions.
  • Any work undertaken in FSC® forests should benefit local populations, including using local labor.
  • Indigenous populations are involved in forest management, including protecting sacred grounds and hunting grounds.
  • Depending on the socioeconomic conditions of the country where the materials originate from, the FSC will also undertake initiatives to develop local infrastructures such as schools and clinics.
  • All wood must be traceable no matter how complex the supply chain
  • Each link in the supply chain must also have certifications to manage traceability. 
  • Annual site visits are made by independent certification firms to confirm how materials are being handled and processed. 

The PEFC® Certification

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization featuring a global alliance of national forest certification systems. 

PEFC endorses national forest certification systems developed through multi-stakeholder processes tailored to local priorities and conditions to ensure responsible sourcing processes. 

Focusing on local forest certifications allows PEFC to ensure all sourcing locations are protected and respected based on:

  • Wildlife 
  • Landscape
  • Social impact
  • Economic impact

PEFC is able to track materials from forests, down to the supply chain and the final product using the chain of custody certification

This ensures that every step of the process is monitored, from the sourcing process to the rights of workers. 

The PEFC label guarantees that any paper and wood-based materials used to produce a product were sourced from PEFC-certified forests. 

Showcasing the certification label on your product makes it easier for brands and retailers to communicate and promote sustainable practices within the production process. 

Furthermore, eco-conscious consumers will recognize PEFC as a credible sustainability certification in turn improving brand credibility in sustainable practices. 

In order to use the PEFC trademark on products, brands need to be PEFC certified to ensure they comply with requirements. 

However, if your product is sourced from third parties, the suppliers need to be PEFC certified to showcase the label on products. 

The TÜV Austria OK Compost Certification

TÜV Austria (formerly Vinçotte) is a certification body that grants certifications like OK compost INDUSTRIAL and OK compost HOME

TÜV is a globally recognized trademark guaranteeing quality and consistency.

It ensures that products, services, or processes are tested for safety and comply with the requirements of national, regional as well as international regulations and standards. 

OK compost HOME indicates that products with the certified label are compostable in a garden, ensuring 100% biodegradability, even in lower temperatures. 

The OK compost INDUSTRIAL label indicates that the product is only compostable at composting facilities, meaning it requires infrastructure to ensure the product is properly degraded in temperatures above 55ºC. 

Popularly used to certify bioplastic products like compostable and biodegradable mailer bags, the OK compost HOME certification is great for waste reduction and creates convenient ways for consumers to compost. 

While TÜV Austria is based in Europe, OK compost HOME and OK compost INDUSTRIAL are globally recognized as the top certifications for biodegradable products. 

With multiple testing facilities and a broad range of certifications and standards, these labels are the most straightforward way in promoting sustainable practices and providing composting instructions for consumers. 

The Soy-Ink Certification

The American Soybean Association aims to advocate for the rights of soy farmers in the US, especially at a time when soy products have ramped up in popularity in a vast amount of industries. 

The soy ink certification indicates that printed products are recyclable and that the soy used was responsibly sourced with standards and regulations set by the American Soybean Association.

Soy-based inks are recognized as more environmentally friendly as it does not alter the recyclability of printed paper materials the way many petroleum-based inks do. 

With the soy-ink seal, businesses can guarantee that products claiming to be sustainable are 100% recyclable, down to the ink showcasing the logo, and are made with greater social responsibility.

The soy ink seal is validated using the following standards: 

Black news ink40
Color news ink30
Cold-set ink30
Carbon Ink25
Screen Printing Ink25
Sheet-fed ink20
Business forms ink20
Metallic Ink10
Desensitizing Ink10
Heat-set ink7
UV/EB ink7
Stencil duplicator ink6

There is a range of certified packaging materials and inks that are worth looking into to enhance businesses’ corporate responsibility.  

Certifications are one of the best ways to guarantee sustainable practices down the supply chain and communicate your efforts in a clear and concise way. 

Download the master guide on how to minimize the environmental impact of packaging

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