Keeping up with changing times, the packaging industry too has evolved and has started offering eco-friendly and sustainable packaging. Notably, packaging waste has become a global concern, and many businesses are trying their best not to add to this growing concern by looking for sustainable packaging methods.
Impact of Packaging Waste
Plastic is a significant contributor to world pollution. However, it also plays a vital role in our daily lives. We encounter plastic daily, especially in product packaging. In fact, most of the products we buy come in plastic product packaging. So, it comes as no surprise that the packaging industry contributes up to 40% of the world's plastic pollution.
ECommerce packaging is a huge culprit behind plastic pollution. This is not because of the use of plastic packaging but over-packaging. At the current rate of expansion, the eCommerce industry's contribution will only increase more in the future. So, if sustainable packaging solutions are not adopted on time, plastic pollution will only increase drastically.
Competitive Advantage of Eco-friendly Packaging
Sustainable packaging is environment-friendly and is beneficial and safe. It is healthy for consumers throughout its lifecycle. Time is changing, and consumers are growing conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases. They are more willing to buy products that are packaged in eco-friendly packaging. On the other side, brand owners are at risk if they do not offer their products in sustainable packaging. For example, if you over-use plastic packaging in your product packaging, your customers may get frustrated.
Sustainable Packaging: Definition
Sustainable packaging is eco-friendly packaging that doesn't contribute to the depletion of natural resources. The following are the features of sustainable packaging:
- Beneficial, safe, and healthy for communities throughout the packaging lifecycle.
- It meets the market criteria for cost and performance.
- It optimizes the use of recycled material.
- Sustainable packaging is manufactured using the best practices and clean product technologies.
- It is designed to optimize energy and material.
How To Make Your Packaging Eco-Friendly?
- Reduced Packaging: as discussed above, over-packaging is one of the major issues in the eCommerce industry. First, it costs you more to over-pack your products. Second, this means more packaging waste as well. You need to streamline your packaging design – it will help you lower the carbon footprints.
- Recycle and Reuse Packaging: you can use recycled material for your product packaging. It keeps the packaging in use for longer. For example, you can consider using recycled packaging inserts – this will show your customers that you are serious about sustainability.
- Plant-Based Packaging: in the past few years, plant-based packaging options have grown massively. You can look for biodegradable packaging alternatives, such as mushroom packaging, consisting of 100% biodegradable and renewable material. These are the by-products of the agricultural industry that help in minimizing the waste in the supply chain.
Sustainable Packaging Strategies
Now that you know what sustainable packaging is, let's now take a look at the best strategies to implement eco-friendly packaging.
Best Disposal and Recycling Practices
You can educate your customers on how they can dispose off and recycle your packaging material. This step can be tricky as recycling is different from city to city and state to state. The best way to implement this is by clearly mentioning the reusable and recyclable labels on the packaging.
In addition to having a recyclable or reusable icon, you can also effectively place a line that reads:
The Packaging Is Fully Recyclable
Recycled Packaging Material
Recycled packaging is undoubtedly one of the best ways of extending the life of packaging materials used previously. When you buy corrugated boxes, containers, or courier bags, consider buying recycled packaging or packaging made of recyclable material. Many business owners are now widely using sustainable packaging to attract more customers.
Paperboard boxes are one such example of recycled product packaging. Paperboard sheets are made of paper pulp, and these sheets are lightweight. So, they can be cut and easily formed into shipping boxes. Single-use bags and bottles that are made of previously used plastic materials are also a good option. The plastic is reprocessed at a recycling facility and put into circulation to form packaging material.
Ship in Smaller Packages
Reducing the ecological footprint involves substantially reducing the packaging material. This means you should consider using smaller bags, containers, and boxes for your products. This will help you to be more sustainable with your packaging and save on shipping costs too. You can start by reducing your shipment size by purchasing smaller packaging material and using fewer packaging inserts. You can also play around with your product's positioning in the packaging to fit in smaller packages.
For example, you sell a table that is to be assembled at the customer's place once it is delivered. You can explore different ways of placing all the parts in a box that also saves space. Similarly, if you sell any foldable product, such as apparel or bed cover, you can tightly fold them so that they fit in smaller packaging easily.
Avoid Over Packaging
The packaging is excessively used in the entire retail supply chain. Products are packed, bagged, and bundled before they go out from the manufacturing unit. A lot of additional packaging is used. You need to optimize how your products move across the supply chain to minimize packaging material and the waste that comes from it.
Lately, plant-based packaging has been becoming very famous in the world of packaging. The plant-based packaging material is made of biological sources, such as corn, mushrooms, seaweed, and food waste.
The right plant-based packaging material will depend on the products you sell and need to ship. For instance, if you sell food, you need to choose the packaging material to protect your food and save it from getting its flavor contaminated. Similarly, if you sell bulky items, durable plant-based material made of mushrooms and cornstarch is the right option.
Edible packaging is like plant-based packaging. It comes from the same packaging family, i.e., it is made of biological sources. But edible packaging is safe to eat. Therefore, this packaging is an ideal option for sellers who sell food and beverages. It can be a great addition to the already scrumptious offering.
If we see the current state of sustainable packaging, it only makes sense to adopt it for your business' success. There has been a global shift towards fighting climate change, and the way brands use product packaging is changing. The brands are using it to build a better relationship with their customers.
While eco-friendly packaging may seem to be an alternative option, it is only going to become important in the future. There are several ways of opting for eco-friendly packaging for your business, and the right approach for it depends on your business and the products you sell. Whether you choose sustainable packaging, tie-up with new vendors, or optimize your packaging requirements, you need to stick to the initiatives. Take one step at a time, measure the results, and then expand from there.