Reducing Carbon Footprint with Sustainable Packaging
What is sustainable packaging? What are its benefits? What strategies can be adopted by businesses in its implementation? This article answers it all.
As the world becomes more and more environmentally conscious, it is important to consider the packaging options of our products. Sustainable packaging is a growing trend in the industry, as companies seek to find ways to reduce their environmental impact. While there are many different types of sustainable packaging, all share the common goal of reducing waste and using resources efficiently.
Benefits of Sustainable Packaging
Sustainable packaging has many benefits for both the environment and businesses. Some of the most important benefits include:
Reducing Waste: The main benefit of sustainable packaging is reducing waste. Traditional packaging materials such as plastics, aluminum, and glass are not biodegradable and often end up in landfills that take centuries to decompose. Sustainable packaging materials such as cardboard, paper, and bamboo are biodegradable, which means bacteria or other living organisms can easily break them down. This helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and eliminates the need for harmful landfill gas-collection systems.
Conserving Resources: Sustainable packaging also helps conserve resources. For example, using recycled cardboard instead of new cardboard saves the trees that would have been used to make new cardboard. In addition, sustainable packaging materials are often made from renewable resources such as bamboo, which can be regrown quickly. This helps reduce the need for non-renewable resources such as oil and gas.
Reducing Emissions: Sustainable packaging also helps reduce emissions from factories and transportation. Traditional packaging materials often require fossil fuels to produce, which leads to harmful emissions. Sustainable packaging materials such as cardboard and paper are made from plant-based materials which don't produce harmful emissions.
Supporting Local Businesses: By using sustainable packaging, businesses can support local businesses and help reduce environmental pollution. Sustainable packaging materials are often made in local factories, which helps create jobs and reduces the need for transportation. In addition, sustainable packaging is often made from renewable resources such as bamboo, which is grown locally. This reduces the number of carbon emissions caused by transporting traditional packaging materials from distant factories.
Building a connection with the customers: Sustainability has become a top priority for many consumers in recent years. They want to know that the brands they support are environmentally and socially responsible. Brands can connect with customers by being transparent about their sustainability practices. Through labeling, they can inform the customers how long will it take to decompose, how much carbon was produced during the manufacturing of the product and what steps do they take in reducing their environmental impact.
Key Criteria for Packaging Sustainability
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a non-profit organization working to advance sustainable packaging. They provide resources and education to help businesses of all sizes make more environmentally responsible choices when it comes to packaging. One of the SPC's main initiatives is the development of comprehensive sustainability guidelines for packaging. These guidelines provide a framework for businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging.
The SPC has identified the following key packaging sustainability criteria:
Material efficiency: How much material is used in the packaging and whether the material is healthy and safe for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle. Can less be used without compromising performance?
Recycling and composting potential: Is the packaging made from sustainable materials that can be recycled or composted?
Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions: What are the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing, using, and disposing of the packaging?
Packaging waste: How much packaging ends up as waste? Can the packaging be reduced or eliminated without impacting product safety or function?
The SPC's criteria can help manufacturers make more sustainable packaging choices that reduce environmental impacts.
Sustainable Packaging Strategies
A classic dilemma for environmentally conscious businesses is how to reduce waste while still ensuring their products look and feel appealing to consumers. Fortunately, a number of sustainable packaging strategies are available that can help companies achieve both goals. Let us explore:
Use recyclable materials whenever possible.
Recyclable materials are good for the environment because they reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. They also require less energy to produce than non-recyclable materials, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, using recyclable materials helps businesses reduce their packaging expenses.
Use biodegradable materials.
Another great way to make your packaging more sustainable is to use biodegradable materials. This includes materials like cardboard, paper, and bio-plastic that can be broken down by bacteria or other natural processes.
Avoid using excessive packaging.
One of the biggest problems with unsustainable packaging is that it uses too much material. This creates unnecessary waste and harms the environment. Try to avoid using excessive packaging, and only use as much as you need.
Use reusable packaging whenever possible.
If you do need to use packaging, try to use reusable packaging whenever possible. This includes things like bags, boxes, and bottles. Reusable packaging is made from durable materials that can be used multiple times before being recycled or disposed of. Some examples are:
Beeswax food wraps are made of natural materials, they are biodegradable and reusable. These wraps can be used to wrap fruits, vegetables, cheese, and even leftovers. They work by sealing in the food's natural moisture and flavor, which prevents it from spoiling. Plus, they are gentle on the hands and don't leave any residue behind.
Mesh produce bags are another great option to reduce the amount of plastic you use when grocery shopping. They're also a great way to keep your produce fresh longer. Mesh produce bags can be reused multiple times, which makes them a more sustainable option than disposable plastic bags.
Aluminum tubes are a great packaging option for a variety of products. They are strong and durable, yet lightweight, making them easy to transport. Plus, they are resistant to corrosion and rust, making them a great choice for products that need to be stored or shipped in humid environments. Made from 100% recycled aluminum, this packaging is environmentally friendly and can be recycled over and over again.
One of the latest trends in packaging is plant-based materials. This type of packaging is made from natural materials such as cellulose, starch, and vegetable oil.
Packaging made of mushrooms is a great alternative to traditional packaging materials. Mushroom packaging is made from mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus. Mycelium is grown in a lab and can be molded into any shape or size. It is a renewable resource, as it can be grown using recycled materials. Additionally, mycelium is biodegradable and compostable, making it environmentally friendly. Mushroom packaging is also strong and durable, making it a great option for packaging products that need to be transported or stored.
There are many different types of plantable packaging, so it is easy to find one that suits your needs. Some common types include seed paper, biodegradable pots, and plantable stickers. Seed paper is made from recycled paper that has been infused with seeds. When the paper is planted, the seeds grow into plants. Biodegradable pots are made from materials that break down naturally in the environment, such as cornstarch or bamboo. When the pot is planted, the plant roots grow through the pot and into the soil. Plantable stickers are stickers that can be planted directly on the ground. They are made from a biodegradable material called PLA (polylactic acid), which is derived from corn starch.
Edible packaging is a type of biodegradable packaging made from natural materials that can be eaten or dissolved in water. It is considered the safest for food packaging as It does not contain any harmful chemicals or toxins that could potentially contaminate food. Seaweed is an effective packaging material. Besides being biodegradable, it protects items from moisture and is a natural insulator, meaning that it can help keep things cool or warm. This makes it ideal for use in perishable packaging items.
To reduce its environmental impact and ensure the planet's longevity, a company should use manufacturing partners with sustainable practices and transform its supply chain. Sustainable manufacturing refers to creating products while minimizing negative environmental impacts and maximizing positive social and economic outcomes. It can be applied to any organization within the product lifecycle, from raw material extraction to product disposal.
Supply chain transformation is the process of improving the environmental and social sustainability of a company's entire supply chain. It involves assessing each step in the supply chain, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing changes. The goal is to create a more sustainable supply chain that minimizes negative environmental impacts and supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
At its heart, sustainability is about creating a better future for everyone. It's about ensuring that we have resources to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. And it's about making sure that the products and services we offer are relevant to the people who will use them long into the future. That's why sustainable branding is so important – it ensures that your company is on track to be not just successful but relevant for years to come. If you want help getting started with sustainable branding, get in touch with us today. We can help you create a strategy that puts your customers front and center while preserving our planet for generations to come.