‘Sustainable packaging’ is a modern-day term used to describe the use of materials that are recyclable and compostable, providing additional benefits such as lower environmental impacts or less resource consumption. The term has been around for over a decade now. Still, it has seen an increase in popularity recently, with companies demanding a greater level of sustainability from their products.
There has been a shift from using plastics as the predominant material in packaging to a variety of natural fibre-based materials that are biodegradable, made from renewable resources, and recycled more readily at end-of-life. The rise in popularity of sustainable packaging is mainly due to increasing consumer awareness about environmental issues and concerns relating to the safety of using plastics.
The concept of sustainable packaging is not something that has sprung up overnight; it’s based on a variety of concepts that have been around for many years, including recycling, reusing materials, reducing waste at source and minimizing carbon footprint, etc. Sustainable packaging can be seen as the next level or stage in the evolution of packaging.
Companies are working towards a 100% sustainable supply chain. This means that all the materials used in making a product should theoretically have been recycled, sourced from renewable resources, and composted at the end of life. This will be a challenging goal to achieve, but some companies have already started on this journey with success.
Benefits of sustainable packaging
You might not know it, but your choice of hand painted champagne bottle packaging has a considerable impact on the environment. From production to transport to disposal, you have some choices to make that will affect the planet. Here are some benefits of sustainable packaging
1. Renewable resources used for manufacturing :
The industry today is moving away from using petroleum-based materials to renewable resources. Sustainable packaging makes use of fibres derived from trees, plants, and wheat straw, etc. These materials can be sourced easily and quickly without causing damage to the environment as opposed to the harvesting of petroleum which takes millions of years before it can be used.
Manufacturers are increasingly aiming for sustainable packaging that uses renewable materials to create the same quality of products as before but with less environmental impact. This is not an easy task but can be achieved if companies work towards this goal in line with consumer demand and push suppliers to use more sustainable options rather than petroleum-based plastics.
2. Reduced overall carbon footprint :
Sustainable packaging is a relatively new concept and aims to reduce the total amount of carbon emission from all aspects of a company’s operations. From sourcing materials to transporting products to disposal, sustainable packaging looks at all these activities and aims at reducing carbon emission where possible. This can be through using renewable resources or, better still, reduced energy input in manufacturing or transportation.
Sustainable packaging is a long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions from all aspects of the supply chain and aims towards a 100% sustainable package solution. It is perhaps one of the most efficient methods towards being more sustainable as it will reduce the overall carbon footprint from every activity carried out by a company.
3. Recyclability of sustainable packaging
The next step in any sustainable plan is recycling, and for this reason, ensuring that products are designed to be recyclable should be the aim of every manufacturer. Sustainable packaging takes into consideration recycling at various stages throughout the lifecycle of a product. The first stage is designing products to be recycled easily, and secondly, ensuring that the materials used in making a product are recyclable.
Sustainable packaging aims to close recycling loops and encourage consumers to recycle more products by giving them accessible options. It will also aim to reduce non-recyclable plastics, which cannot be recycled easily today.
4. Renewable resource-based sustainable packaging :
Sustainable packaging is designed to reduce environmental impact and carbon footprint from glass bottle packaging, with various materials finding use in the industry. From traditional plastic to natural fibres such as bamboo, bagasse, wheat straw, etc., sustainable packaging can be found everywhere. The benefits of using these materials are many but mainly focus on renewable resources, recyclability, biodegradable nature, and lower environmental impact or carbon footprint.
In addition, today’s manufacturers are also looking at new ways to add value back into the materials they use in their packaging by adding value-added capabilities such as imparting antimicrobial properties or extending the shelf life of products.
5. Renewable resource-based sustainable packaging for food & beverage :
The food and beverage industry is one of the most significant users of packaging today. In Europe, 70% of all wood used in manufacturing goes to this sector alone. Therefore, sustainable packaging has been studied more extensively in this industry since it is a massive user of plastic materials, and the demand from consumers on social media for more sustainable options is high.
The industry has reacted to this demand. Today, you can find various sustainable packaging solutions based on renewable materials, including wood, bagasse, bamboo, etc., with biodegradable features.
6. Growing demand for sustainable packaging :
Sustainable packaging is here to stay and will only increase adoption going forward. With awareness on the subject increasing, more and more consumers are pushing manufacturers to produce sustainable packaging that will reduce environmental impact from its lifecycle and reduce carbon emissions during transportation. The food & beverage industry is also seeing a lot of demand from discerning consumers who care about what they eat and how it has been packaged.
Manufacturers, too, are seeing the value in sustainable packaging and working with suppliers to close loops around material usage, ensuring that materials can be recycled easily and finding raw materials from renewable sources such as forest or agriculture by-products.
Environmental impacts are becoming essential in any business strategy today, with customers looking for sustainable options. Sustainable packaging offers many benefits to manufacturers by reducing environmental impact from every stage of the supply chain.
Today, you can find sustainable packaging solutions for almost every industry worldwide, making it easier for manufacturers to design products that are more efficient to produce and offer features that add value to end products.