Thanks to the shopping friendly modern world, packaging waste is increasing exponentially every day. Although countries from all around the world are doing their best to recycle all they can, it’s never enough. Most part of them would still end up in landfills. And as these packaging materials consist mainly of non-decomposable stuff like plastic, they would stay there literally forever. Apart from educating the consumers about what they can recycle, we make sure that even if they end up throwing the packaging, it doesn’t harm. We should prefer natural and decomposable i.e. eco-friendly packaging.
If you a company which ships its products to consumers, it’s high time for you to start looking at eco-friendly packaging. Of course, you have to consider the cost, size, materials, and so on. Most packaging used these days is made of plastic, which causes a lot of pollution – in the landfills and waterways. You can significantly stop plastic from filling up the oceans and rivers by using environment-friendly packaging. Let’s take a look at the benefits of sustainable packaging and also the kinds of green packaging you can use:
How to transition to eco-friendly packaging?
Changing government policies, customer tastes, as well as corporate demands/policies too have caused many green innovations in the packaging industry. You can streamline your organizations’ packaging division with sustainable packaging by doing the following:
Optimizing package design
The first step towards eco-friendly packaging is deciding on the material which can be used and the best possible design which will help to reduce the amount of material used. Your packaging partner would advise you as to the least possible layers of packaging which is required to protect your product. There are software to calculate this, even if your product is of an odd shape and size. You may not be able to forgo plastic and Styrofoam completely, but you can reduce the amount you use. For example, use air cushions instead of Styrofoam.
Some examples of environment-friendly packaging
1. Packaging peanuts which are biodegradable
Many cities in the US have banned Styrofoam and EPS (Expanded Polystyrene), as these are not biodegradable and their recycling costs are too high. In place of these two materials, you can opt for air peanuts which can degrade over time. They work in a similar manner as Styrofoam and EPS, but they are eco-friendly.
These air peanuts or air pillows are made from sustainable materials which reduce plastic use. Moreover, they can be reused and recycled. Plus, they require minimum packaging when shipped. The price of shipping also reduces as the weight of the air pillows is very less.
2. Packaging made from cornstarch
Natural alternative packaging is manufactured from cornstarch. It’s an organic raw material which is derived from the maize plant. Its plastic-like properties enable corn to be used in place of plastics. Cornstarch is used to make many kinds of molded forms, loose-filled packaging, etc. You can consider using cornstarch derivatives to make your packaging too.
3. Corrugated wrap
Bubble wrap is another popular packaging used around the world. But as it is also made from plastic, it cannot be called eco-friendly. One of the substitutes being developed is corrugated cardboard made from up cycling cardboard packaging waste. To make it suitable as a cushioning material, small cuts are made in the sheets. This makes it just as effective as bubble wrap, with the only difference being that it cannot be popped like bubble wrap!
4. Mushroom packaging
Mushrooms may be your favorite food, and soon they may become your favorite packaging material too. Mushroom packaging is made by mixing cleaned agricultural waste, which is ground into powder form, and mixed with the roots of mycelium or mushroom. This is a better option for organic packaging as agricultural waste is used, and a special crop does not have to be cultivated. This does not compete with land for food production, which is the case for cornstarch packaging.
The mushroom roots and agricultural waste mixture is the raw material which can be molded into any shape and then dried. This non-toxic packaging biodegrades very quickly too and can be composted at consumer’s homes too. This makes it one of the best environment-friendly packaging ideas we have reviewed.
5. Seaweed packaging
The one ingredient common to all the organic packaging is the gelatin ‘agar’. This gelatin is found in algae and seaweed also. Some designers have won a design award for prototyping seaweed-derived agar in packaging. This new substance can turn out to be the most widely used in the future.
6. Recycled plastic
Recycled plastic is a great packaging material too. Instead of the plastic ending up in landfills and waterways, its better that it is recycled time and again, to prevent new plastic from being manufactured.
7. Recycled paper and cardboard
All the above-mentioned filler materials need to be boxed in something, and the sustainable choice is cardboard/paper boxes. If paper and cardboard is sourced unsustainably, they have a very drastic, negative impact on the environment.
But for your packaging needs, to cut down on using fresh/virgin paper and paper products, you can use recycled cardboard/paper boxes. This could save many millions of hectares of forest. Better still, buying FSC certified cardboard will ensure that you are supporting forests sustainably. There are many companies who make custom shipping boxes that are FSC certified.
Benefits of eco-friendly packaging
1. Decreases your carbon footprint
The most obvious benefit of adopting green packaging is protecting the environment from more damage. Eco-friendly packaging is usually manufactured from recycled, biodegradable materials which reduce natural resource waste. For packaging to be deemed eco-friendly, the process has to be energy efficient too, thus putting less strain on resources. This further minimizes the negative impact your business has on the environment.
Green innovations have ensured that sustainable packaging is extremely versatile. Green packaging has come a long way, and eco-friendly packaging can be found for any industry – cosmetics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts – in fact for any industry you’re in.
The natural alternative packaging is much better for the environment than the conventional packaging that has always been used. As alternative packaging is recyclable, it reduces the negative impact on the planet. Sustainable packaging is made from natural materials, unlike plastic, so that they degrade in the landfills back to their original materials.
4. Improve your brand’s image
Consumers are very savvy. They go for those products which are eco-friendly. If your company uses sustainable materials in your packaging, you would create a loyal, green- loving customer base. Your brand’s image would be enhanced, leading to better sales and improved ROI.
To stay ahead of the game, you can start introducing eco-friendly packaging at the earliest possible date. You’d be known as a company which behaves responsibly towards the environment, and you will gain new and loyal environment-friendly customers. Of course, the environment would benefit from your reduced use of plastics too!