What is sustainable packaging?
Eco-friendly packaging is one that minimally affects the environment during its life cycle. Impact can be assessed in several dimensions:
- How many resources were spent and how dirty the production is?
- Are recyclable and renewable raw materials used?
- Can the packaging be reused?
- Safety for humans. For example, when heated, the packaging should not be distinguished by harmful substances.
- Functionality. Packaging should preserve the appearance and quality of the product, as well as improve its storage conditions.
- Is it possible to quickly manufacture and how much will it cost?
- Is there infrastructure for collecting such packaging?
Almost every packaging solution has an environmentally friendly alternative. Eco-packaging can be used for storage, transportation, delivery of goods. In terms of strength and other properties, it is not inferior to its non-degradable counterparts.
Used containers are disposed of by composting and biodegradation. It does not harm the people who come into contact with it and the environment. Traditional types of plastics take 100 to 1000 years to decompose. Biodegradable containers can disintegrate into components in 2-3 months.
Costs and Benefits
There is a perception that environmental commitment can be costly for a company, but it turns out that being green is quite cost-effective. With fewer materials used, manufacturing may end up being cheaper and packaging lighter, so shipping will be cheaper. In addition, the more companies favor recyclable materials, the more incentives there will be to drive down the cost of products.
Eco-friendly packaging principles
- The weight and volume of any package should be the minimum necessary for safety, hygiene and acceptability for the packaged product and for the consumer.
- Waste production. On the one hand, it is important to reduce the amount of production waste generated, such as packaging waste, surplus and waste of material, by-products formed during the production, assembly, filling, and transportation of packaging. On the other hand, the waste that is still generated must be transferred for recycling.
- Recyclable content. An environmental benefit is the presence of recycled materials in the packaging.
- Renewable content. The sustainability of packaging is improved if the composition contains biomass-based materials. At the same time, the source of plant raw materials must be used sustainably – so that the natural resources necessary for this are renewed without depletion.
- Content of raw materials from responsibly managed sources. The most obvious example is paper or cardboard with the FSC Responsible Forestry Certification. The green tree with a checkmark is recognized all over the world to ensure that the wood for the production of the material is harvested sustainably – so that the forest resources consumed are fully restored, biodiversity is preserved, and rare species are protected.
- Reusability. Choosing more environmentally friendly packaging for products, you can give preference to one that is recyclable and capable of withstanding several cycles of use. At the same time, experts propose to be guided by international standards EN 13429 or ISO 18603.
- Transport efficiency of packaging. Environmentally preferable packaging, which allows “not to carry air” both inside the packaging with the product, and as part of the transport packaging. By optimizing the packaging shape, the carbon footprint is reduced.
Good examples of sustainable packaging
The Leaf Republic came up with leaf packaging. The packaging is made of bioplastic or recycled plastic, and the 3-layer natural plate is made of leaves (first and third layers) and waterproof sheet paper (second layer). This plate is free of synthetic additives, dyes, glue – and finally decomposes in just 28 days. The Leaf Republic also makes trays, bowls, and pans.
Pangea Organics has devised a way to incorporate organic basil and amaranth seeds into its packaging so that after a customer has removed their product, they can simply remove the label, soak the box in water, and plant it in the ground.
- Take care not only of the modern design of your packaging but also of the environmental friendliness of the materials from which it will be made. For example, make it recyclable.
- Use a minimum of packaging. Not only will this reduce environmental damage, but it will also help you draw attention to your product.
- Train the consumer to think about the environment. Write on your packaging how important it is to recycle and be responsible for the environment.
- Learn the best practices abroad and adapt these ideas to your company. Be a pioneer in green packaging to attract new customers and build a community around your brand.
- Perhaps the most important thing is not to forget about the purity and environmental friendliness of the product itself. All the examples that we have given in the article are eco-friendly products and manufacturers that help to make our planet cleaner.