Learning to Practice Sustainability in Packaging in 2021

sustaiable packging boxes

The boxes we use for gifts, shipping, and retail are as important today as they were years ago. The only difference now is the priority to make packaging sustainable.

Sometimes the unboxing experience is more important than the product itself.

In our generation, climate change is the hottest topic to discuss everywhere. Different industries are investing more in environment-friendly packaging practices.

Recycling Magazine has stated that 74% of consumers said they are willing to pay a premium for sustainable packaging.

Businesses today are now becoming more conscious of how they pack their products.

The following are important sustainable packaging solutions applied to a wide range of product packaging:

  • Rigid
  • Corrugated boxes
  • Displays
  • Inserts
  • Labels

These trends show the increasing need for sustainable materials and manufacturing. It clearly shows that the balance between consumption and wastage of sustainable materials is completely in our hands.

Let’s have a look at some stats for perspective:

  • Around 1/3rd of an average landfill is accumulated with packaging material.
  • Out of every ten dollars spent buying products, one dollar goes to packaging, which is thrown away afterwards – most often.
  • Packaging accumulates up to about 65% of household trash.

But we can take serious steps that make a big difference:

  • One ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper will save seventeen trees, three-hundred and eighty gallons of oil, 3 cubic yards of landfill, four thousand KWs of energy, and seven thousand gallons of water.

This accumulates for a whopping 64% energy savings, 58% savings in water, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Solutions

The packaging waste data mentioned above is disturbing, but we have a solution! There are so many easy packaging solutions that will show your brand as an eco-friendly entity with low costs.

First off, understand what constitutes eco-friendly packaging:

  • Is the product packaging recyclable?
  • Is it made from material that’s recycled, such as kraft paper?
  • Can consumers get to reuse the packaging?
  • Is the packaging stuff biodegradable?
  • Are you using excessive or extra loads of packaging?
sustainability of packaging

Gladly, the usage of eco-friendly packaging doesn’t have to be a difficult or expensive endeavor. Here are a few tips to set things right for you:

Don’t overpack your products

Let’s talk about the easy way to save money. Why waste money and resources? Especially on excess packaging, you don’t even need it? You’ll have to employ enough padding to cushion products. It’s because your customers don’t want to be stuck trying to get rid of a box of unnecessary void fill.

Use corrugated material boxes

Corrugated cardboard is the most recycled material in the world, there’s an easy recycling process in place. Just collect, compact, and then send into a repulping phase to make new boxes.

But there are a few drawbacks to recycling corrugated cardboard. It can’t have metal foil or wax on it – hindering its usage for fresh takeaway foods. We know that tossing soggy boxes into the recycling bin would be a disservice to environment-friendly practices.

Whenever we hear the term ‘corrugated cardboard box’, words like boring occur to the mind. But the printing and die-cut techniques of today have changed the tune. There are plenty of ways to introduce your unique designs onto the custom boxes and get your brand recognized.

Just cover every side of the packaging boxes with your brand-specific colors and slogans. You can choose various price points to personalize an otherwise bland corrugated box while being eco-friendly.

Go for the biodegradable variety of add-ons to protect products. Your customers and the earth will thank you for doing so because they’re very easy to dispose of.  Use starch-based peanuts that dissolve easily in water – making easy to get rid of them fast.

Other eco-friendly void-filling protection to products during transit include the Geami paper (an alternative to bubble wrap that’s 100% recyclable). You can even use cords that are biodegradable, as an alternative to twine. Also, biodegradable burlap bags, tissue papers, and colorful shredded recyclable paper.

Let’s explore examples of a few brands that are excellently bringing sustainability in their packaging:

Pink Boutique

An online British retailer that sells glamorous partywear at affordable prices. Pink Boutique ships around 2,000 apparel per day. Now that’s a lot of packaging boxes that will presumably go to landfills. But decided to act responsibly and innovatively.

So, to show responsibility towards eco-friendliness, they switched from using polythene mailer bags to ones made from sugarcane. It’s because the sugarcane bags are 100% recyclable.

Luckily this new packaging coincided with a rebranding scheme for this apparel brand.

Dell

The tech sector mostly lacks responsibility towards the environment, but Dell (a computer company) makes it a priority.

Dell introduced what it calls its ‘3Cs packaging strategy that focuses on:

  • The cube (packaging’s size and shape)
  • The content (material choice)
  • The curb (recyclability)

They’re constantly working to reduce the size of their packaging boxes. This action cuts down on waste a lot. When possible, they use locally available materials.

In fact, in 2009, Dell rose as a pioneer tech company that used packaging made from bamboo – because it grows rapidly too. In 2011, they started using mushroom packaging. This type of packaging perfectly cushions hardware and is compostable in open landfills.

Dell now looks forward to using waste materials, such as ocean-bound plastics in their packaging scheme. 95% of their packaging now comes from sustainable sources of packaging.

Amazon

Talking about businesses following sustainable packaging seems incomplete if we miss out on Amazon. Amazon is the largest U.S. online retailer is expected to show big amounts of responsibility towards sustainability.

In 2017 alone, Amazon was responsible for generating 44% of all eCommerce sales in the U.S. In a goodwill gesture to reduce waste and keep its customers happy, Amazon introduced its 2008 packaging program. First, they concentrated on getting done with the excessive packaging. Plus, it’s 100% recyclable.

Since its founding, Amazon’s initiatives on sustainable packaging eliminated up to 255,000 tons of packaging materials. This means it avoided 500 million shipping boxes! In 2017 alone, Amazon reduced packaging waste by 16%.

Now, this is really a big leap towards eco-friendly practices.

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