How Can I Make The Switch To Sustainable Packaging?
Try to envision all of the packaged items shipped all over the world in one day. Then imagine how they are designed and how they are discarded. In all of the online ordering that goes on and all of the companies transporting goods from their factories, to warehouses, and to retailers, there is a lot of unnecessary and wasteful usage of cardboard, paper, plastic, and styrofoam. The way most packaging materials are made uses too many natural resources, and much of it cannot be recycled. Thankfully, there are solutions to this problem by way of sustainable packaging.
What Is Sustainable Packaging?
Packaging can be sustainable. The changes involved in making packaging more sustainable range from small, inexpensive, and uncomplicated to extremely innovative.
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition® (SPC), describes sustainable packaging as a situation where:
“all packaging is sourced responsibly, designed to be effective and safe throughout its life cycle, meets market criteria for performance and cost, is made entirely using renewable energy, and once used, is recycled efficiently to provide a valuable resource for subsequent generations. In summary: a true a closed loop system for all packaging materials.”
You can be hopeful in your efforts to improve your business’ packaging because:
“The SPC believes that through intelligent packaging and system design, it is possible to ‘design out’ the potential negative impact of packaging on the environment and societies.”
How Can I Use Sustainable Packaging?
As with other sustainable efforts, you want to focus on three things: reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Reducing is the easiest and most effective of the three. This method costs you less in materials, and by using less of something, less of it must be created and discarded. It is common to rethink the size of shipping materials (to prevent situations where you order one book and it arrives in a box big enough for a tv) or to rethink the way you offer your products. An example of the latter concept would be the way so many laundry detergent companies now offer super concentrated formulas, so a customer gets more product in a single package, thereby using less plastic and reducing the amount of water that was previously used in less concentrated formulas.
Sometimes, it isn’t possible to use fewer materials effectively, so one must think of ways to use more efficient materials that can be reused, recycled, or have been made from recycled content. You can research alternative materials for your products and packaging to reduce your costs and your environmental footprint. You should also look for recycled shipping packages and filler (also referred to as having post consumer content) at online stores, Staples, and more. Options for these products become more varied and less expensive every day.
For even more tips, check out these links:
Resources from the SPC to help you learn about sustainable packaging options
A hotline to packaging news, trends & innovations
Green cell foam (biodegradable, compostable, static-free, and performs as a desiccant)
10 Tips For Sustainable Package Design (Particularly notice the Clever Little Bag!)
I hope this post has given you a thorough understanding of what sustainable packaging is and given you a good start to making changes in your own business. We would love to hear any ideas you come up with.