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Why does sustainable packaging matter?

 In Blog, Blogs

Environmental awareness has been growing in recent years with more of us understanding the devastating impact our lifestyle choices have on the planet. As highlighted in recent UN reports, more than a million species are at risk of extinction, global warming is advancing rapidly, and single-use plastics wreak havoc on the oceans. In fact, 8 billion kilos of plastic waste flows into the world’s oceans every year. With 40% of all global plastics produced serving as single-use plastic packaging, the way we safely store and distribute products needs a complete overhaul.

As well as the obvious harm to our lands and seas, high costs of packaging burn a hole in supply chain pockets. With industries striving to embrace green initiatives, businesses would fare well to rethink their packaging strategies: sustainable products need sustainable solutions. In response to this, sustainable packaging provides a great choice in both reducing the environmental impact of packaging and also lowering those unwelcomed externalised costs.

Why does sustainable packaging matter?

Packaging must fulfil certain criteria for the product it contains. For example, food packaging may be designed to comply with stringent safety and hygiene standards; it may protect components during their onward journey between factories; it may house finished products ready for sale. Packaging keeps our food fresh, displays useful legislative guidelines and conveys product information.

In recent years, retail development such as improved convenience means that the amount of packaging material has increased exponentially. This is also a result of supply chains that have largely shifted toward single-use packaging. Globalisation of supply networks, as well as the increased prominence of large retailers, and the streamlined logistics of single-use supply chains, may be to blame for this shift in strategy.

In a bid to go green, the existing utility and benefits of packaging must be retained while also ensuring that packaging can contribute to a circular economy.

Sustainable Packaging for businesses

Any business seeking to eliminate wasteful packaging must rethink the entire packaging strategy, but given the complexity of some of the larger brands packaging materials and product lines, each product demands a unique set of safety considerations. We will discuss reducing unnecessary packaging, redesigning the essentials of packaging, where to invest to close the loop and how to reuse existing materials.

 

Reducing unnecessary packaging

Businesses can take a look at the layers of plastic being used. In 2021, a number of high street retailers removed the single-use plastic sleeve covering from tubes of wrapping paper, instead opting to replace it with a simple paper seal. Small but effective steps to eliminate unnecessary packaging can make a huge difference overall, both in terms of environmental impact and waste but also to consumer perception of what is necessary and what is superfluous to requirements.

 

Redesigning much-needed packaging

Take a look at reviewing and redesigning packaging formats to ensure they are either recyclable, reusable or biodegradable. For instance, where bubble wrap was once the durable, cheap and reliable option for many companies, the market is now flooded with a number of eco-friendly packaging alternatives ranging from compostable to edible: why not use packaging that disappears completely!

Investing to close the loop

 

When businesses buy recycled materials, businesses are investing in sustainable systems. By then opting to partner with other businesses, community organisations and government bodies, packaging can be collected, sorted and recycled. As recycling processes are readily available and waste collection services are able to receive mixed recycling, it really couldn’t be easier to move your business to a more sustainable model.

 

Reuse materials

 

More value is maintained when products are reused rather than recycled in the hierarchy of the circular economy (e.g., Rethink, Redesign, Reuse, Repair, Remanufacturing, Recycling, Recover or any of the “R” versions). So as to retain product and material functionality, reusing packaging presents a huge opportunity to reduce material use and environmental impact. A great contender in the ready-foods market is BOL soups, whose product comes in reusable storage containers. Of course, these materials can also be recycled but they are specifically designed to be reused by the consumer: you buy your soup and get a free container for the kitchen.

By reducing unnecessary plastic materials and redesigning product packaging, your business can be well on the way to a more sustainable status. Investing in recycling and looking into reusable items will also help in terms of externalised costs and also customer interest; by taking a few creative steps now, you can help the long term sustainability of your business without costing the earth.

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