5 ways to ensure sustainable packaging

A sustainable packaging strategy is an approach that aims to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging.

Innovation and Technology
 Min read
April 23, 2022

Gone are the days when packaging was considered a mere layer to protect what is inside. With changing business dynamics and consumer behaviour, manufacturers are now cognizant of the fact that product packaging can play a pivotal role in the selling process.

No one thought that a small cardboard box can do wonders for a company’s sales process but the packaging is now considered the first impression of a brand. In the 21st Century, millennials increasingly say they want brands that embrace purpose and sustainability. Several reports on consumer behaviour revealed that products with sustainability showed twice the growth of their traditional counterparts.

Harvard Business Review reported that Unilever estimates almost 70% of its greenhouse gas footprint depends on which products customers choose and whether they use and dispose of them in a sustainable manner. Opting for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging is a significant step in narrowing this ‘intention-action gap’.

What is the criteria for the packaging to be considered sustainable?

As per Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) if the following criteria are successfully addressed, the company’s packaging can be transformed into a sustainable packaging system.

  1. Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
  2. Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  4. Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  6. Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.
  7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  8. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.

A sustainable packaging strategy is an approach that aims to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging. This can involve assessing the lifecycle of packaging material, production process and creating infrastructure to recycle waste materials.

We have rounded up 5 ways to ensure sustainable packaging for your organisation:

Use less material

Ensure that your overall packaging involves fewer components. If you are using fewer resources, you will be using less space in transit, and putting less burden on the customer for disposal. Shrinking your packaging size also shrinks shipping costs, material costs, resources, and emissions en route to your customer.

You can also work with your suppliers and vendors to optimize your supply chain practices. Make sure you have a forecast of demand to ensure that you don’t overproduce or over-order packaging products. You can also consolidate shipments to use fewer packaging materials.

Choose material wisely

To ensure sustainable packaging, you need to dig deeper into your supply chain to choose the best option for the company. Explore options and choose a material shift that suits best for your packaging. For example, an apparel company chooses paper-based packaging while a furniture company chooses cardboard-based packaging.

Compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives

Compostable packaging is made out of materials that can be composted at home and commercially. These materials are often made from plant-based polymers that can break down in compost. Depending on the quality, materials can take upto 90 days to break down, while domestic compost conditions can do it in 180 days.

Use plant-based packaging solutions

Companies can also opt for bio-based plastics or corn plastic. These packaging solutions are made from an organic compound. Apart from this, Polylactic acid (PLA) is a plastic substitute that’s made from fermented plant starch. While companies across the globe are becoming conscious of using single-use plastics, PLA looks set to become the next-best option.

Manufacturing partners with sustainable practices

Choose your packaging material manufacturer wisely. Now factories have various ways of practising sustainability like minimizing electricity or water use, optimizing machines, fair labour wage and no extra working hours.

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