Going green isn’t a new phase that companies are going through - in fact, most companies have been making a shift towards sustainability including sustainable packaging, for the past several years. That’s not to say that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon yet though, if we want to call it that. Often it can be easy to overlook how various departments of a company can do their part to be eco-conscious.
It doesn’t always have to be a drastic change in business practices, even simple changes can make a difference. There are many benefits that come along with being sustainable, and going greener with packaging brings many along with it. Here are the 6 benefits of implementing more sustainable packaging:
1. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Sustainable Packaging
This probably comes as no surprise but the moment that your business implements sustainable materials and processes is the moment that it begins to reduce the negative impacts that it has had on the environment.
Carbon footprint is defined as the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc. Whether you believe in global warming or not, you are nonetheless reducing your CO2 emissions by cutting down on the amount of packaging you have to use to complete your finished goods, which all in all is a good thing.. a really good thing!
The weight of your packaging materials will directly impact the amount of energy required to produce your finished goods and the energy required to ship them to the retailer or end-user. Switching to a lighter weight material can positively impact your carbon footprint.
Many consumers care about the impact they have on the environment themselves, which directly relates to the products they choose to purchase and the brands they choose to be loyal to. Once you switch to sustainable packaging you can include that in how you go to market with your products. Capitalize on your brand's corporate responsibility in being environmentally-focused directly on your packaging.
2. You Get More Storage And More Space With Sustainable Packaging
When you decide to make the packaging you use more sustainable, chances are you are finding more creative ways to make sure that you are being efficient about how much packaging material you use and how. Typically when this shift to sustainable packaging happens you end up with more space.
This includes space required for transport, allowing you to ship more product than you had prior while still reducing your freight costs. This helps you cut down on the number of transports you have to make which saves you money in the long run.
Additionally with a smaller finished good footprint, Less space is required for storage at your own facility for inventory allowing you to expand your product line or utilize the available space for different projects you were not able to implement prior.
The smaller package footprint also make more room on the shelf. This allows you more flexibility in where your product is placed in the retail space and allows for more creative displays, and of course, more product for the consumer to purchase.
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3. Sustainable Packaging is Free Of Allergens And Toxins
Most biodegradable packaging options are non-toxic and allergy free. Though biodegradable flexible packaging options are not plentiful yet, they are available and making their way to better affordability and easy implementation. Some lines of bio-plastics are able to run on the same machinery that regular flexible materials are run, making the transition easier.
More and more people are concerned with what products (and the materials they are packaged with) are made out of and the harm they can potentially have on their health and well-being. Not only is a bio-plastic better for the safety and health of consumers, but it also gives a consumer more incentive to buy your product.
This is one of the factors that the informed consumer will take into consideration when deciding the products they buy or the brands they buy from.
4. Sustainable Packaging Reduces Use Of Resources
The use of sustainable packaging can also play a role in the amount of energy it takes to package a product or make the actual packaging itself. It can reduce solid waste, water usage, electricity and emissions.
Though there is a negative view on flexible plastic packaging by those who are not fully aware of packaging product lifecycles, plastics have the upper hand on reducing carbon footprint.
For 6 plastic packaging categories analyzed including caps and closures, beverage containers, shrink film and stretch film, carrier bags, other flexible packaging and other rigid packaging options:
Plastic packaging enables weight savings of over 78% when compared to alternative packaging matierals
In 2010, 14.4 million metric tonnes of plastic packaging were used. If alternative packaging were substituted, more than 64 metric tonnes of material would be required.
The substitute packaging would require more than 80 percent more cumulative energy demand and 130 percent more global warming impact. This would be equivalent to adding more than 15.7 million vehicles to our roadways!
5. Increase Sales With Sustainable Packaging
As mentioned before, there are several factors that people take into account when they are making a purchase. The environment and what your brand is doing to protect or mitigate damage to it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Not only can this focus help with expanding your market and provide an additional way to market your brand and product lines, but it can potentially increase your sales as more people interested in purchasing from a brand that is focused on a greater cause and reducing their carbon footprint.
In fact, in a survey done by Nielsen in 2016, millennials said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable goods.
6. Save Yourself Money Sustainable Packaging
Sustainable and eco-friendly products tend to be packaged in more lightweight materials which ultimately can help you save on shipping costs. Think locally when sourcing freight carriers and materials for packaging. A well thought-out logistics plan will directly impact your costs in a positive way. Not to mention your consumers will also appreciate when products are lightweight and easier to recycle.
When creating packaging, especially if you are e-Commerce, keep in mind the ease in which you can not only send packages to consumers, but how you can save money when it comes to returns. Rather than providing extra materials for returning a package if needed, include a return mailing address and have the consumer use the packaging that was used to deliver the product back to your facility.
Making your packaging sustainable might not be something you do overnight, but it is something worth looking into now to get a plan in place for the next 5 years. Not only can it help reduce your carbon footprint, expand your brand into new markets, but it can also increase sales and reduce the amount of money you are spending on packaging materials.
About David Roberge
Part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I'm lucky to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier to be able to share our knowledge with you. I love learning about our readers and helping them grow their brand through unique, flexible package design from the birth of the product idea, through the supply chain, and to the launch and placement on the shelf or at the consumer's door.