Environmental concerns are making a major impact on today’s business world. More and more businesses worldwide are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. As a result, we are witnessing a growing popularity of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packaging. Sustainable packaging (a.k.a. green or eco-friendly packaging) has numerous benefits for businesses, customers, as well as our one and only planet. Besides, switching to this type of packaging may soon be required by law.
What is eco-friendly packaging and what are its benefits?
- Eco-friendly packaging is usually made of recycled or renewable materials.
- Since most of these materials are natural, sustainable packaging is safer and healthier for both people and the environment.
- Green packaging helps cut carbon emissions and produces little to no waste.
- Your business can save energy after switching to green packaging, as its production requires fewer energy sources.
- The cost of making sustainable packaging materials is lower compared to traditional packaging.
- Green packaging is generally sturdier and provides better protection than regular packaging.
- Green packaging can be used in almost every industry.
- The growing number of environmentally conscious consumers indicates that using eco-friendly packaging materials can boost your company’s image and increase brand loyalty.
Eco-friendly packaging ideas for environment-conscious businesses
Reusable, recyclable, and biodegradable packing materials come from various sources, in all shapes and sizes, and can be easily adapted to your packaging needs whatever industry you’re in.
- Cardboard and paper
Cardboard and paper are the standard across many industries. You can use these materials to pack goods such as medicines, food, cosmetics, etc.
Although they are organic materials, they can have a negative impact on the environment unless they are sourced sustainably. Fortunately, paper and cardboard are some of the most recyclable, biodegradable, and reusable materials out there. Environment-conscious businesses concerned about climate change and other environmental problems source post-consumer or post-industrial recycled cardboard and paper. Another option is using packaging materials marked as FSC-certified which are sourced from sustainably managed forests.
- Biodegradable plastic
Biodegradable plastic is a practical, eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic. A lot of packing materials made of 100% recycled plastic are now available. Plastic is a good choice when you need a sturdy container that won’t break while transporting heavier loads. Plastic can also serve as cushioning or filler.
- Corn starch
Corn starch is an organic, biodegradable material derived from the corn or maize plant. It is an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Thanks to its plastic-like properties, corn starch can also be a great substitute for traditional plastics. This material is suitable for all types of food packaging. Best of all, items made of corn starch have little to no harmful effect on the environment. The biggest issue with the usage of corn to make packaging materials is that it is also a valuable source of food.
- Organic packaging materials
Seaweed packaging is an award-winning packaging idea. Agar - a substance found in a variety of seaweeds and algae - has many applications, especially in the food industry. One of its newest applications is making organic, eco-friendly packaging materials for various purposes.
Mushroom packaging is an inexpensive packaging alternative made of, believe it or not, mushrooms. Cleaned and ground agricultural waste is mixed with mushroom roots to make eco-friendly packing materials. Unlike cornstarch packaging, mushroom packaging uses waste, not a potential food source for humans and animals. Another advantage is that it biodegrades at an incredible rate. Mushroom packaging is ideal for packing smaller items.
- Eco-friendly fillers
Traditional bubble pack is made of plastic that does not decompose, which makes it bad for the environment. A great alternative is a cushioning material made out of up-cycled corrugated cardboard that can be used instead of traditional bubble pack.
Packing peanuts are also commonly used as cushioning for breakable and otherwise sensitive items. Environmentally conscious businesses use packing peanuts that are biodegradable instead of Styrofoam or EPS (expanded polystyrene foam). Several US cities have banned EPS because of its hazardous impact on the environment. Biodegradable packing peanuts, on the other hand, aren’t as harmful for the environment. Plus, they are more affordable and often more efficient.
Reusable packaging materials
The idea behind reusable packaging is extending the life of packaging materials for as long as possible. Re-use is encouraged by creating higher quality bottles, bags, and boxes the consumer will not only use once before throwing them away. In addition to being good for the planet, reusable packaging materials remind consumers of your product and your brand every time they see your logo on the package. Another way to re-use packaging materials is renting instead of buying. Let’s face it - boxes and large portable containers are handy when remodeling or moving a home, but you won’t use them very often, so why not return them?
When packing a product, one should be economical with space and packing materials. A minimalist approach to packing will attract eco-conscious consumers, give you an advantage over your competitors, and save you a lot of money on materials. Therefore, always use a container that matches the size of the item. If possible, make custom boxes for the items you are shipping.
In addition to wasting space, packing a smaller item into a larger container increases the risk of damage. This is something moving and storage companies know very well. bestcrosscountrymovers.com would never put a small, fragile item into a large box since that would require more fillers and more space in the moving truck.
It is often necessary to have letters or pictures on your packages. If you cannot avoid printing pictures or texts, at least try to avoid using inks that contain harmful chemicals. Use inks made from milk proteins or food instead. For example, soy inks are a good alternative, as they come from a renewable source and release zero VOCs. Papers containing soy ink can be deinked easily, which simplifies the whole recycling process.