Sustainable packaging is simply packaging that is more environmentally friendly. The best sustainable packaging manufacturers will conduct a full life cycle assessment to determine a product’s environmental impact—not just what it’s made of—in order to determine whether or not it’s environment-friendly.
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) proposes the following criteria for sustainable packaging –
- Throughout its lifecycle, it is beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities.
- Meets market performance and cost criteria.
- The one which is sourced, transported, manufactured, and recycled using renewable energy.
- Optimizes the use of renewable source or recycled materials.
- Is produced using clean manufacturing technologies and best practises.
- Is made from materials that are safe to use throughout the life cycle.
- Is physically built to optimize energy and materials.
- Is efficiently recovered and used in industrial and/or biological closed-loop cycles.
Here are some sustainable packaging trends –
Refillable parent packaging – The use of reusable containers contributes to Zero Waste initiatives. The principle behind is: store sells products in bulk, and customers bring their empty containers to be filled. Cleaning and personal care products are frequently available in this manner. The use of refillable containers lowers transportation and manufacturing costs, but the success of this system is dependent on a number of factors. This may include additional costs incurred on the supply chain, general public acceptance, and the availability of large quantities of containers.
Bulk dispenser refilling – It is another packaging trend for the wholesaler to retailer market. Wholesalers ask retailers to bring their containers and fill them. Many retailers offer a variety of products to customers in bulk dispensers, primarily dry goods such as cereals, pastas, and nuts, which must be refilled. This trend is spreading, smaller grocery chains and general stores are following it in order to contribute to sustainable packaging for environment.
Returnable/reusable packaging – In the business-to-business market, reusable or returnable packaging is not a new concept. Crates, pallets, drums, and bulk containers have long been reused by manufacturers. Returnable containers and cutlery are being used by a number of organisations to reduce environmental impact. The concept of reusable packaging is also being adopted by the business-to-consumer market. Consumers receive their favourite products in transit-friendly and sustainable packaging. They use it and then return it to be reused. There is also returnable packaging management software available to manage assets throughout the supply chain.
Antimicrobial packaging – Developing such sustainable packaging is generally costly and may require major design changes. It contributes in keeping food fresh for a longer period of time. This packaging film will reduce microbial and ripening activities on food. Also, the reduced microbial action reduces the proportionality of microbial or viral diseases.
Edible films – Edible packaging is available for commercial use. Chitosan is the most effective natural product for creating edible packaging. It is a polysaccharide with natural antibacterial properties. The edible films are used in the packaging of fruits and vegetables. Chitosan packaging is useful for two reasons: it is edible and can protect food from a variety of mechanisms. It acts as a physical barrier, preventing microbes from coming into direct contact with the food. It also inhibits bacterial respiratory activity by obstructing oxygen supply in the packaging.
Bioplastics – Bioplastics are made from renewable, biodegradable resources such as proteins, starch, and polylactic acid. The packaging materials will not compete with a food source. The raw materials, such as rice hulls and wood chips, are already waste or byproducts.
Post-consumer recycled resin – Post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin is a type of recycled plastic that is used to make products such as water bottles, sheets, films, and other containers. Electronics, pharmaceutical, retail, and medical packaging are among the industries that are quickly adopting it.
Brand owners sustainable packaging mission is being driven by consumers’ increased awareness. The recycling business is struggling in many areas. This may compel brands to use more environmentally friendly packaging like Sustainable packaging.
Strategies for Sustainable Packaging –
Now that you understand what sustainable packaging is, let’s take a look at the strategies and packaging innovations you can use to make your packaging eco-friendly.
- Share best practises for waste disposal and recycling – Educate your customers on how to dispose and recycle your packaging materials properly. However, by clearly labelling reusable or recyclable packaging, you can share general best practises.
- Ship in a smaller box – Packing your products in smaller boxes, containers, and bags not only helps you be more sustainable, but it can also lower your shipping costs.
- Packaging made from recycled materials – When selecting boxes, containers, or mailers, consider using packaging made from recycled materials.
- Packaging made from plants – These materials are made from biological sources, such as mushrooms and seaweed, as well as corn and food waste.
- Packaging that is edible – They are also derived from biological sources, but edible packaging goes a step further by being edible.
- Packaging that is plantable – Plantable packages contain seeds, allowing your customers to replant them after they’ve been used.
- Alternatives to plastic that are compostable and biodegradable – Compostable packaging is made from materials that can be composted. They’re frequently made of plant-based polymers that degrade in compost.
- Throughout the supply chain, avoid over-packaging – Optimise how merchandise moves throughout the supply chain in order to reduce materials — and eventually the waste that comes with them.
- Make use of manufacturing partners who practice environmentally friendly practices – Select manufacturers who practice sustainability. Do your homework. Before entering into a contract with a supplier, inquire about their manufacturing processes and practices.
The Benefits of Sustainable Packaging –
We’ve talked about sustainable packaging and the various strategies that go with it, but exactly what can we get out of eco-friendly packaging?
- Increase your customer base and brand loyalty -Being more sustainable can help you get more customers while also increasing loyalty.
- Consolidated storage – Sustainable packaging includes two major components: minimising waste and reducing packaging materials. And, when properly implemented, they will lead to efficient storage, allowing you to reduce the amount of space required to house your products.
- Reduced shipping costs- As previously stated, shipping small, smaller packages is an excellent way to practice sustainability. This has the added benefit of lowering your shipping costs.
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